Thursday, June 04, 2009

Klobuchar Fights for Fairness for Minnesota Chrysler and GM Dealers

As part of her ongoing efforts to address the concerns of Minnesota’s auto dealers, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar [D-Minn.] yesterday questioned top executives from General Motors and Chrysler about their plans to close dozens of dealerships in the state, and pushed for a restructuring process that is fair to all dealers.

At a Commerce Committee hearing, Klobuchar highlighted the importance of local dealers to their communities and urged GM and Chrysler to give full and fair consideration to the concerns of these dealers and their employees. Witnesses at the hearing included GM CEO Fritz Henderson, Chrysler Vice Chairman and President Jim Press, and auto dealership representatives.

"This isn’t just about Detroit or Washington," said Klobuchar. "This is about locally owned businesses, as well as the employees, customers and communities who depend on them."

At the hearing, Klobuchar pushed GM and Chrysler executives for answers to why they are closing so many dealers and how they decided which dealers to close. Klobuchar noted that many of the dealers in Minnesota that were notified of closure are dealers that are doing well, especially in the current economy.

She highlighted Walser Buick Pontiac GMC in Bloomington, Fury Dodge Chrysler in Lake Elmo, and Koronis Motors in Paynesville as examples of successful dealers that have been targeted for termination.

"Those termination decisions may have been made in the boardrooms of Detroit, but they have already had devastating consequences in living rooms across the country," Klobuchar noted. "From the perspective of many auto dealers and the local communities they serve, the restructuring process looks neither fair nor orderly. We need a process that is transparent and fair."

In recent months, Klobuchar has worked directly with Minnesota dealers, the auto companies and the Obama Administration to seek relief for dealerships that have been designated for closure. Today, she met with the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association, and met with the president of GM North America, and Chrysler Vice Chairman and President Jim Press yesterday.

Additionally, Klobuchar has sponsored an amendment, introduced with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison [R-Tex.], which would ensure that dealerships have an extra 60 days to close their operations and sell remaining inventory.

"I’ve made it very clear to both the Obama Administration and the car companies that our local dealers must be treated fairly as the auto industry works toward a stable future," Klobuchar said.

Klobuchar was joined at the hearing by several Minnesota dealers, including: Scott Preusse Motors in Redwood Falls [Chrysler]: Koronis Motors in Paynesville [GM]; Walser Buick Pontiac GMC in Bloomington [GM); Shakopee Chevrolet Pontiac in Shakopee [GM]; Nelson Auto Center in Fergus Falls [GM]; and Fury Dodge Chrysler in Lake Elmo (Chrysler].

GoodBiz113's take: Thank you, Sen. Klobuchar, for once again advocating on small businesses' behalf -- as well as that of our myriad stakeholders. Hopefully, Al Franken [D-Minn.] will soon be allowed to take his rightfully elected U.S. Senate seat in order to complement your seemingly tireless [?] aim of working on behalf of all Minnesotans.

SOURCES: Sen. Amy Klobuchar: Working for the People of Minnesota [photo], U.S. Senate Commerce Committee

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