BOSTON (March 1, 2010) — As the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act nears a vote in the Massachusetts Senate, advocates of the bill find themselves facing strong opposition—including some from a former ally.
The New England Service Station and Automotive Repair Association (NESSARA), which formerly supported the bill, has posted a notice on its Web site urging the Massachusetts Senate to “put the brakes” on the legislation.
“The proposed bill will not, in our opinion, address the issues as we currently understand them,” NESSARA said. “In fact, we believe the current bill will do more harm than good. This law, if passed, will lead to expensive lawsuits that will benefit trial lawyers, not our businesses or customers. Its passage may result in the restriction of information, not providing it.”
NESSARA's opposition is accompanied by that of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, which claims the bill will destroy domestic manufacturing jobs.
“The Right to Repair legislation is not about fixing cars,” said Robert J. Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, in a letter on the union's Web site. “This is not about small businesses or independent mechanics…This is about big chain repair shops like Midas, NAPA, Jiffy Lube, AutoZone and others wanting to pirate intellectual property so they can profit by making cheaper parts, most likely in the kinds of low-wage, worker-exploiting countries that have received too many American manufacturing jobs already.”
These accusations rile supporters of Right to Repair, such as the New England Tire & Service Association (NETSA), which insist the bill will only ensure that independent repair shops have easy, reasonably priced access to the same repair and diagnostic information that franchised auto dealers get.
“NESSARA started having reservations (about Right to Repair) when they started having meetings with ASA (the Automotive Service Association),” said Stan Morin, general manager of New England Tire Car Care Centers in Attleboro, Mass., and co-chair of NETSA's Legislative Committee. The ASA, which made a voluntary repair information agreement with auto makers in 2002, is one of Right to Repair's staunchest opponents.
Mr. Morin also was dubious about the AFL-CIO's complaints. “When car manufacturers were shutting down dealerships in Massachusetts, where was the union when these people were being sent into unemployment?” he told Tire Business. “If you're going to complain about jobs going overseas, you have to complain about every job that's lost.”
The version of the Right to Repair Act sponsored by Rep. Garrett Bradley passed the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Feb. 8 by a 12-1 vote. The bill could come up on the Massachusetts Senate floor at any time, Mr. Morin said.