As a major contributor to the nation’s economy, the automotive aftermarket, worth an estimated $405.3 billion, employs more than 4.7 million people. There are a number of legislative issues that have impact on this industry segment – and the people it employs – given that it represents such a significant portion of the nation’s GDP.
As the aftermarket enters the season of legislative advocacy, let’s take a look at some key issues impacting the industry that will be discussed on Capitol Hill in the coming months.
Right to Repair
On Nov. 3, 2020, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot initiative that would provide car owners with access to their mechanical data and would permit owners to share that data with the repair shop of their choice when they passed an updated version of the Motor Vehicle Owners Right to Repair bill. Voters supported the measure by a landslide 75%.
According to the Auto Care Association, passage of this legislation means that car owners will continue to determine where they have their vehicle maintained and repaired, thus ensuring a competitive repair marketplace in Massachusetts. Supporters further hope that action by Massachusetts voters will spur serious consideration of a data-access bill on Capitol Hill to ensure that all U.S. car owners can continue to decide where and how their vehicle is maintained.
The association and other supporters of the Right to Repair act are now working to get the bill updated at the Federal level. As it stands now, three months into 2021, there are currently 14 states with Right to Repair bills up for consideration as well. New Jersey, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont and Washington have all filed new bills.
Farming Now a Focus For Right to Repair
According to a report from United States Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), the farm equipment industry vowed to give American farmers a “Right to Repair solution” by 2021. “It hasn’t happened, so we have been assessing what tools farmers can and can’t get. One thing is for certain: Farmers are not satisfied with those current offerings, and farmer organizations are stepping up their advocacy. About a third of the Right to Repair bills filed to date target agricultural equipment. For our part, U.S. PIRG will expand our work in agricultural equipment repair in the coming months,” said Nathan Proctor, director, Campaign for the Right to Repair for U.S. PIRG, in a recent blog post.
Labor Law Changes
According to the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), during the week of March 8, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. This bill dramatically overhauls U.S. labor laws and will bring sweeping changes to the laws that govern unions. The bill includes provisions that would infringe on employee rights and privacy, violate employers’ right to due process and drastically change labor policy in a way that will only hurt the U.S. economy and motor vehicle parts suppliers, AASA explains.
AASA alerts members that the PRO Act would strip workers’ right to private voting and secret ballots in union elections. It also requires employers to share private information of their employees, opening them up to potential harassment and coercion. This bill also eliminates Right-to-Work protections for workers across the country, including in the 27 states that have passed Right-to-Work laws. Eliminating these protections would violate states’ rights and force employees to contribute financially to political organizations they may not agree with or risk losing their jobs, AASA states.
Other Issues To Watch in 2021:
• Access to Vehicle Data
• Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM)
• COVID-19 relief
To get involved and learn more about the legislative issues impacting the automotive aftermarket, go to: autocare.org/government-relations or aftermarketsuppliers.org/advocacy/aasa-action-center.