Shop Employee’s Illness Highlights Industry’s Lack of Health Insurance - BodyShop Business

Shop Employee’s Illness Highlights Industry’s Lack of Health Insurance

When a member of the industry gets sick, it affects their well-being, their family and their employer. When that employee doesn’t have health insurance, not only is their health still in jeopardy, but also their financial future.

Jason Van Der Sluis recently started a new job as a body technician at an auto body shop in Southern California. A 10-year industry veteran, the 28-year-old had a seizure and collapsed at work his first week on the job.

He went to the emergency room, where doctors found a large tumor near his brain. Surgeons were unable to remove the entire tumor, which is cancerous. Van Der Sluis has started radiation therapy, the only treatment for the cancer.

He had neither group health insurance from his employer nor individual health insurance.

“Cars are his passion,” said sister Teresa Caraveo. “He feels so lucky that he’s been able to provide for his family doing something that he loves.”

Van Der Sluis’ family includes his wife of five years, Laura, and three children: Connor, 5, Meagan, 3, and Brendan, 2.

“All their plans that they’ve had for the future – short-term and long-term – have been stopped,” says Lonnie Caraveo, Teresa’s husband. Lonnie Caraveo is the manager of Phil’s Body Shop in Seattle. With the help of shop president Phil Blodgett, he’s getting the word out about Van Der Sluis and trying to raise awareness about the plight of uninsured employees in the industry.

Blodgett, like Van Der Sluis, started in this business in his late teens. A cancer survivor, Blodgett lost a kidney and part of a lung to the disease more than 10 years ago. While he recently received news that his health is just fine, he worries about others who aren’t so fortunate, including one of his employees whose kidney cancer has metastasized.

Along with Phil’s Body Shop, Blodgett owns a couple different companies, including Saitek USA and ABM Heart Technologies, a medical device company. He provides health insurance to his employees. But offering employee benefits is expensive, especially with high rates of turnover. For some shops, affording benefits might mean lowering pay rates, which doesn’t help to entice potential employees. “It’s a very sensitive subject with all of us,” he says.

Blodgett says the industry today isn’t the same as when he started his body shop some 40 years ago. In the Seattle area, he’s seen journeymen painters leave the industry for better jobs with better benefits at Boeing.

“How can we attract new people to our trade when we cannot afford to take care of our own?” he asks.

Even when shops are able to attract employees, Caraveo notes that those employees typically have to work in a shop for a long time before the shop invests in them, something he has experienced firsthand both as an employee and a manager.

We are guilty of putting these guys in the situation where they have to bounce from job to job,” he says. And with the current climate in the industry, newer employees are typically the first to go when the going gets rough.

“The guys who are set are the ones who have been at a shop for a long time and have a home,” Caraveo says. “The young guys are still trying to figure out where they’re at and make their way. It’s a tough road for them.”

Jason Van Der Sluis knows that road too well. “He just wants to get back to what’s comfortable and what he knows, and that’s working on cars,” Caraveo says.

Contributions can be made to the Jason Van Der Sluis Medical Fund at Bank of America, established by Lisa E. Dunn of Washington state.

You May Also Like

Cruise Postpones Release of Driverless Taxi Service

Cruise, a GM subsidiary, recently announced that it will miss its goal of launching a large-scale self-driving taxi service in 2019.

Cruise, a GM subsidiary, recently announced that it will miss its goal of launching a large-scale self-driving taxi service in 2019. Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said the company plans to dramatically increase the number of its autonomous test vehicles on the road in San Francisco, but will not be offering rides to regular people this year, according to an article from The Verge.

Cutting Edge Automotive Solutions Partners with Andretti Rallycross

Andretti Rallycross announced that Cutting Edge Automotive Solutions will serve as technical partner on Cabot Bigham’s No. 02 OINK Clothing Beetle for the remainder of the 2019 Americas Rallycross season, showcasing their SP Tools USA brand.

Ford, Volkswagen Expand Collaboration to Include Autonomous, Electric Vehicles

Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen AG announced they are expanding their global alliance to include electric vehicles – and will collaborate with Argo AI to introduce autonomous vehicle technology in the U.S. and Europe.

CCAR Updates Website with More OSHA Alliance Resources

CCAR (Coordinating Committee For Automotive Repair) has announced the addition of new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Alliance content on its main website, www.ccar-greenlink.org.

CARSTAR McLaren Lake Forest and CARSTAR McLaren Irvine Open in California

Owned by husband-and-wife team James and Mary Davis, CARSTAR McLaren Lake Forest and CARSTAR McLaren Irvine are a family business.

Other Posts

CIECA to Offer Webinar on What Businesses Need to Know to Implement CIECA Standards

CIECA will hold its next CIECAst webinar, “Implementing CIECA Standards: Implementation Guide and Appendix C – BMS, Code Lists and Shema Components,” on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 at 11 a.m. CST.

CARSTAR Urges Customers to Stay Winter Ready

Cold weather can create some of the harshest driving conditions of the year. The months between October and February top the list for accidents, vehicle damage and injuries.

CIECA Adds Broadly as Corporate Member

The Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association (CIECA) announced that Broadly has joined CIECA as a corporate member.

NABR Launches BillableGenie Online Searchable Database of Insurer-Paid Not-Included Procedures

National AutoBody Research (NABR) has announced the launch of its BillableGenie online service, an independent, centralized source of actual data on insurer paid not-included procedures and operations, labor rates, labor rate concessions and other manually entered estimate line items.