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Rejected-dealer advocates fail to get GM reinstatement calls

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Rejected-dealer advocates fail to get GM reinstatement calls

'I'm sure it's not a coincidence,' Darvish says

Neil Roland

Automotive News -- March 9, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

WASHINGTON -- None of the three leaders of the rejected-dealers group that successfully lobbied Congress for a new arbitration law got a reinstatement phone call from General Motors Co.

Tammy Darvish, Alan Spitzer and Jack Fitzgerald -- the dealers who head the Committee to Restore Dealer Rights -- said in interviews Monday that none of the seven wind-down GM dealerships among them were contacted by the automaker.

GM said today it had completed contacting all 661 rejected dealerships it had marked for reinstatement. A total of 1,160 had paid a $1,625 fee indicating their intent to pursue arbitration.

“I feel like I'm walking around with a big target on my back,” Spitzer said. He has three rejected GM dealerships in the Cleveland and Akron areas, including a Chevrolet, a GMC and a Buick/Cadillac store.

Tammy Darvish, who has a rejected Chevrolet store in Lanham, Md., said: “The only thing I'm confident of is that I'm sure it's not a coincidence.”

GM spokeswoman Ryndee Carney declined comment.

“Since we are not identifying which dealers received letters of intent, I can't comment on any specific cases,” she said.

Fitzgerald said he has two wind-down Cadillac stores and a Buick/GMC dealership in Maryland, none of which have been contacted by GM.

661 calls

GM North America President Mark Reuss said last week that the company planned to phone all 661 rejected dealerships by today to advise them of the automaker's intent to reinstate them. Those calls were all made, spokeswoman Carney said.

GM plans to follow up later this week with letters of intent to the dealerships it wants to reinstate.

Reuss and his aides also said that the 499 dealerships that haven't been contacted could request reinstatement or compensation from GM, and the automaker would consider it.

Spitzer, Darvish and Fitzgerald all said they intend to pursue either arbitration or ask that GM consider a possible settlement.

“I want my dealership back,” Darvish said. “There's no amount of money they could pay to make me go away.”

As part of GM's bankruptcy proceeding last spring, GM targeted 1,350 dealerships for closure by October 2010 and another 650 dealerships to lose at least one franchise but remain open.

Spitzer still has three Chevrolet stores that were not marked for wind-down and Fitzgerald has one.

Last summer, Spitzer, Fitzgerald and Darvish formed the Committee to Restore Dealer Rights of rejected GM and Chrysler Group dealerships.

They mobilized a grassroots lobbying campaign that spurred the House to pass legislation reversing the terminations.

After both the legislation and subsequent settlement talks stalled, the committee spearheaded lobbying efforts that led to the new arbitration law under which rejected dealerships can seek reinstatement.

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