News & Updates

How Training Can Ease Your Labor Problem

No matter where my travels have taken me over the past several years there is one refrain that continues to eco; “I can’t find or keep drivers!” From Palo Alto to Baltimore the challenge for suitable workers is to one degree or another a universal problem. I even filled in for a guest speaker in St Louis who fell ill at the last minute who was to speak on the problem of labor. Without the benefit of his notes I simply asked the audience to answer three questions.

  1. How do we attract them?
  2. How do we hire them?
  3. How do we keep them?

As you can imagine there were as many opinions as there were people in the room. But after some of the emotion was drained from the room, there was a few agreed upon topics. Wages, obscene hours, dangerous working conditions and the problems with dealing with people aside, we landed on the topic of training. Or perhaps the difficulty and investment of training. The group decided that it was becoming more difficult, more complicated and terribly expensive. As you read these words you may be thinking “Dah Dan, I could have saved you the trip!” Forgetting the obvious for a moment, how do we do something, anything about it? Well there is some hope here and your Coalition is right smack dab in the middle of it. As you may or may not know we have partnered with the CTTA and have begun creating training videos that are introductory. Put another way they are somewhere between introducing the new employee to what something is called to the level 1 training that the CTTA offers. Our theory was that the rigors of operating a tow truck or car carrier have grown too complex for an incoming employee to start out with level 1 training. They need time and experience to be able to fully leverage the level 1 course. Our videos seek to bridge that gap from day one to day 90-120 when your service tech can take advantage of the more advanced training.

How it Works

The videos will be comprised of 5 different modules that last from 10-20 minutes each. Each module will cover a different discipline and will be accompanied by a test at the end that will rate the test takers comprehension. After completing all 5 tests the student then receives a certificate of completion thus letting you know that at least some of the basics have indeed been covered. Once the tests have been completed that video goes away. Each package of 5 can only be purchased and used once. We have yet to decide on a price but the goal is to make these affordable.

How this helps you Labor Problem

If one gets the chance to ever conduct an exit interview with new hire’s, you will likely conclude that the new hire was simply overwhelmed. The best way to help minimize this is through information. Because we are hiring younger folks all the time the video or internet based presentation resonates better therefor educating them better than traditional manuals. This new to us method may not help attract new folks but it sure will help keep the ones you did manage to net.

Dan Charlebois- UCMCS Training Chairmen

UCMCS Summer Newsletter

Greetings Coalition Members,

I hope you’re enjoying your summer. We are approaching two industry shows that your Coalition will be involved in so I would like to share the details, promote them and get your support.

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Craig Baker, VP and Michael McGovern of Tow Times with UCMCS President, Steve Sgarlato

The Tennessee Tow Show – September 9th and 10th in Chattanooga. 
This year we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of Towing. UCMCS will have a booth at the show to promote our association and take part in the festivities. The International Towing and Recovery Museum will be honoring the fallen drivers in our industry as they do every year. If you have not made your reservations yet, please do so soon as many of the hotels are booking up quickly. Register today!

The California Tow Truck Association Show – October 13th through the 15th in San Diego.
UCMCS will also have a presence there. Please attend and support not only the Coalition but CTTA. Both shows offer educational seminars that are valuable to your businesses and assist all of us in promoting professionalism in our industry. I hope to see you at the shows!

All the best, Steve

Steve Sgarlato
President
UCMCS

 

We Took a Stand – and WON

UCMCS Members:

We wanted to update you on a significant victory for the towing industry at the State Capitol. AB 2586, dubbed the “Parking Bill of Rights,” was introduced by Assembly Member Mike Gatto, a Democrat from Glendale, on February 19th, and included the following provision:
“The owner of a motor vehicle is not required to pay any fine or charge, including towing and impounding fees, whether public or private, resulting from the illegal parking of the vehicle if the illegal parking was the result of third party criminal activity and no fault of the owner of the vehicle.”

In essence, the bill would have required towers to provide free towing and storage to vehicle owners when their vehicle was towed for illegal parking if the illegal parking was the result of the vehicle being stolen or other third party criminal activity.

UCMCS took a stand in opposition to the bill and teamed up with the California Tow Truck Association (CTTA) and the Los Angeles Official Police Garages (OPG) to collectively fight the bill on behalf of the entire tow industry. We argued at the Capitol that while we were certainly sympathetic to the plight of a vehicle owner who has had their vehicle stolen, AB 2586 attempted to address the issue in a manner that merely shifted the problem – and financial responsibility – onto the backs of small tow businesses. Tow companies are being requested to provide a critical service and to later statutorily deny them any payment for these services whatsoever – despite no knowledge or fault about the underlying criminal activity – is hypocritical and ultimately would likely result in more illegally parked cars on California’s already crowded streets and parking lots as tow companies would be disincentivized from towing any illegally parked vehicles. Furthermore, vehicle owners are in the best position to readily protect themselves from costs associated with a stolen vehicle by obtaining a suitable auto insurance policy.

Ultimately with a showdown looming at the upcoming Assembly Transportation Committee hearing on Monday, April 4th, Assembly Member Gatto backed down and agreed to take out this towing provision from his bill. In exchange UCMCS has agreed to remove its opposition. We thank Assembly Member Gatto for being responsive to the towing industry’s concerns.

While this is great news, AB 2586 is just one of the many fights the tow industry continues to face at the Capitol. We’ll continue to keep you updated as the 2016 legislative year progresses.

Steve Sgarlato
President, UCMCS

UCMCS March 2016 News

Hello Coalition Members,

My apologies for the gap in communications lately, I have been going through some business changes that have kept me preoccupied. One thing that hasn’t changed, like it or not, I’m still your President. I’m pleased to continue in this role and thank you for your continued confidence.

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As you know, the Coalition held its annual meeting and elections on February 24th. Many of the incumbents were reelected, we welcome Lisa Cahilane as our new Secretary, and Sam Johnson as our new Director. Visit our website to view your current Board of Directors.

We had a terrific turnout at the annual meeting that included many of our members and associate members. Here are some highlights from that meeting.

  • Our attorneys discussed the current legal climate affecting our industry including assembly bills and lawsuits.
  • Our insurance broker discussed the rising costs of truck insurance, how we got here and what to expect, including working collaboratively on solutions.
  • We debuted one of the training modules we have been working on with CTTA. The positive response to this was overwhelming.
Thanks again to Jim Inglebright and his treasurer for donating their time to secure the facility.

The training committees are working diligently to finalize the next several training modules. If you are interested in beta testing any of the modules, email me and I will get you the link to view, and give feedback. Those that have already done so, thank you!

As a new term board, we will meet at the end of March to discuss budgets, trade shows, and other action items. Stay tuned for developments in the coming months.

As always, please support your Associate Members.

All the best, Steve

Steve Sgarlato
President, UCMCS

 

AB 1222 – What it Means

UCMCS Members:

We have received a number of calls from members seeking additional information on the requirements contained within AB 1222, a new towing law that went into effect on January 1, 2016.  Because of this new law, some dealerships and auto body shops are requiring that tow company drivers provide information, including driver’s license numbers, before they drop off a vehicle.  This is permissible under the new law.  However, it is also important to note that there are extensive privacy protections in place under California law to ensure that this info is carefully maintained by the business and not misused or disclosed in any way.  We have summarized the new law below, but we thought it was important to first give you some background on the new law, including UCMCS’ involvement.

AB 1222 by Assembly Member Richard Bloom, a Democrat from Santa Monica, was sponsored by the City of Los Angeles and at one point contained language that would have allowed every local government to regulate (and charge fees) for every tow truck that drove through its jurisdiction.  Because this could have been financially devastating to UCMCS members, UCMCS fought alongside the towing industry to remove this intolerable language.  Fortunately, the author and sponsors finally relented due to the industry’s pressure and agreed to remove this provision.  However, even with the local government regulation expansion language removed, there were a number of other problematic remaining provisions of the bill.  This included provisions that would have required all drivers to produce work estimates on the side of the road when solicited to the scene of an accident or disabled vehicle, despite the extreme dangers associated with such a task.  UCMCS worked particularly hard to ensure that motor club contractors were not unfairly treated in the ongoing discussions on the bill.  Ultimately, the bill that was signed by the Governor greatly minimized the requirements on motor club contractors, including an exemption for motor club contractors from the estimate requirement.

Attached is the final version of AB 1222.  It amended Vehicle Code section 22513 and added a new section 22513.1, which are summarized as follows. 

Vehicle Code Section 22513 requirements:
When a tower is summoned to the scene of an accident or a disabled vehicle:

  • If summoned by a motor club, a tower must possess:
    • Name of motor club; referral/ID number; date and time summoned
  • If summoned by law enforcement, a tower must possess:
    • Law enforcement agency; log/call/dispatch number or surname and badge number of officer; date and time summoned
  • If summoned by the vehicle owner or operator, a tower shall:
    • Possess the first and last name and telephone number of person who summoned; make, model, year, and license plate of vehicle; date and time summoned; name of person who obtained info
    • If vehicle owner or operator is present, tower shall furnish a written itemized invoice of all charges and services prior to attaching vehicle (unless first moved to safe spot) and obtain the owner or operator’s signature.  This invoice shall contain:
      • The name, address, telephone number, and motor carrier permit number of the towing company
      • The license plate number of the tow truck performing the tow.
      • The first and last name of the towing operator, and if different than the towing operator, the first and last name of the person from the towing company furnishing the estimate.
      • A description and cost for all services, including, but not limited to, charges for labor, special equipment, mileage from dispatch to return, and storage fees, expressed as a 24-hour rate.
    • Not charge a fee in excess of CHP or law enforcement rate for that jurisdiction, unless the towing is performed with the prior consent of the owner or operator of the vehicle.
    • All of the above info must be retained by the tower for three years.
Vehicle Code Section 22513.1 requirements:
A business taking possession of a vehicle from a tow truck shall obtain the following info:

  • Tow Company Info:
    • Name, address, and telephone number of the towing company
  • Tow Truck Driver Info:
    • Name and driver’s license number of the tow truck operator
    • IMPORTANT NOTE: California law protects privacy by prohibiting the inappropriate usage of a driver’s license number including, but not limited, to:
      • Penal Code sect. 529.7 (prohibits obtaining or assisting another obtain a driver’s license if not entitled to the document)
      • Vehicle Code sect. 1808.45 (prohibits unauthorized disclosure of information from any DMV record to any person)
      • Civil Code sect. 1798.81.5 (a business that owns, licenses, or maintains personal information, including a driver’s license number, shall implement and maintain reasonable security procedures to protect the personal information from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification, or disclosure.)
      • Civil Code sect. 1798.90.1 (prohibits collecting information by swiping a driver’s license for any purposes other than verifying age or authenticity of the license, check verification or when legally required.)
  • Vehicle Info:
    • Make, model, and license plate or Vehicle Identification Number
    • The date and time that possession was taken of the vehicle. If the vehicle was dropped off after hours, the business shall obtain the information from the towing company the next day.
 All of the above info must be retained by the business for three years.