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Olds Guy

Teamster Salesmen

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Olds Guy    30

Sorry if this was posted elsewhere and I missed it.

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WALKING THE LINE: Cadillac salesmen picket at Massey dealer after firings

They joined Teamsters after commissions cut

June 1, 2006

BY MICHAEL ELLIS

FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

Richard DeTata, left, Gary Hachigian, Matthew Sebastian and Bob Adas picket at Don Massey Cadillac in Plymouth on Wednesday. The four were fired days after salespeople voted to join the Teamsters union. Dealership group Sonic Automotive owns the chain.

After 27 years of selling cars at Don Massey Cadillac, Bob Adas stood outside the dealership in Plymouth with a picket sign in his hands on Wednesday after he and three other salesmen were fired days after joining the Teamsters union.

The four car salesmen had never been members of any union in their lives. But all said that after dealership group Sonic Automotive Inc., which owns the top-selling chain of Don Massey dealerships, cut sales commissions by about 50% in March, they talked about joining the Teamsters.

Don Massey, a fixture among metro Cadillac dealers since 1967 and whose voice is familiar to radio listeners, sold his empire of dealerships to Sonic four years ago.

"Mr. Massey always paid us good, treated us fair. Sonic Automotive, all they care about is making as much money as they can," Adas said on the sidewalk by the dealership, at the junction of I-275 and Ann Arbor Road.

"Really, what I think they're trying to do is get rid of the older guys and get younger guys in who will work for less money."

Salespeople voted 10-5 on May 17 in favor of joining Teamsters Local 283 in Wyandotte. On May 25, the four salesmen -- Adas, Gary Hachigian, Matthew Sebastian and Richard DeTata -- said management fired them, purportedly for poor sales results.

"Other people that didn't get fired had less sales than we did," said Hachigian, 52, of West Bloomfield, who has sold Cadillacs for 17 years.

Sonic Automotive said in a written statement to the Free Press that it does not discuss personnel matters. But the "personnel actions at issue were taken for legitimate business reasons and these personnel decisions are completely unrelated to the outcome of the May 17 union representation election," Sonic wrote.

The Teamsters union filed an appeal to the National Labor Relations Board in an attempt to get the four salesmen their jobs back, charging that Sonic engaged in unfair labor practices.

Sonic said in the statement that it will vigorously defend any claim that its actions were unlawful.

Adas and Hachigian said they'll continue to picket outside Don Massey, and they have no intention of seeking work elsewhere.

"Somebody's got to make a stand," Hachigian said.

Other salespeople at the dealership were at their desks inside the dealership, but there were few customers around on the sunny Wednesday afternoon.

One man who declined to give his name said the picketers didn't stop him from picking up a new Cadillac STS sedan that he ordered.

A security guard with a video camera in hand kept an eye out for the picketers.

Officials from the Teamsters union patrolled outside the dealership to keep car transport drivers, who are also members of the union, from dropping off new Cadillacs.

"The Escalades are hot right now, but those orders aren't going to get filled," said DeTata, 64, who worked 16 years at Don Massey.

The Teamsters have other plans to pressure Sonic. Some of the salespeople sell cars directly to autoworkers at GM plants in Toledo, said Todd Lince, an organizer for the Teamsters Local 283.

"We'll put a stop to that tomorrow," he said.

About 25 UAW members turned up in support of the Teamsters and also picketed outside the dealership, Lince said.

Don Massey, himself, could not be reached for comment. However, DeTata stepped off the picket line for a few minutes to speak to a young man behind the wheel of a Cadillac Escalade, who he said was Massey's grandson. The young man declined to comment.

DeTata said he hopes that Don Massey customers, the majority of whom are GM employees including many union members, will stay away, putting financial pressure on Sonic.

As he spoke, drivers whizzing by the dealership honked their horns in support of the picketers.

"People are driving by giving us the thumbs up," Hachigian said. "I haven't seen anything but a thumb."

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PurdueGuy    72

While it does sound like the guys got a bum deal, why is this not just left at a lawsuit? While this sounds legit, and I don't feel bad for this employer (assuming that the article fairly represents the situation), I can imagine employees with more... selfish motives... causing some major damage to an employer for some personal gain. In this case, there is a clear and definate legal procedure to receive compensation, and IMO, that and that alone should be used. Not that they can't badmouth the company to their friends and make the media aware of the lawsuit... lol

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roopull    0

Oh dear... the union mentality strikes! :Barf:

You know, if I owned a company & my employees unionized, I'd fire every friggin' one of them. All the company wants to do is make money? Well no crap! Who the heck starts a company to lose money? Maximizing profit is what every company on the face of the Earth is started for. You don't start a company thinking, "Gee, I want to provide awesome jobs! I want to make sure my employees are paid more than the job market will bear! I want to pay for people's retirements, healthcare, childcare, tooth care, car care..."

Sheesh! What a bunch of crybabies!

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CARBIZ    1

Let's set aside the pros and cons of unionization for a moment: after 27 years of loyalty at the same company, then along comes a new owner and slashes your pay by 50%? You wouldn't be pissed, too?

Don't be misled by the myth of fat cat salespeople - those days are long gone. The only GM salespeople still making money ARE the ones who have been doing it for a long time and who have worked very hard to gain customer trust and loyalty.

Sounds to me like Sonic are a bunch of a-holes. They are taking a big chance clearing out their veteran salespeople in this fierce market and replacing them with rookies.

I am not a big fan of unions; however, Sonic represents the very reason many places do organize. Most salespeople I know work very long hours, are expected to be on-call at all times to be there at any customer's whim and are used to having their pay plans jiggled every year, according to the prevailing whimsy of management.

In this area, many of the GM dealers are being run into the ground by second generation brats, whose constant temper tantrums and outrageous displays of callousness are terrorizing their employees while daddy basks in the sun in Scarsdale.

GM does not need this volatility at their grass roots level.

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roopull    0

Without a doubt the Sonic group are a bunch of jerks... Jerks and/or shrewd businessmen.

That being said, so are the salesmen. If they're truly worth the money they were earning, I'm quite certain they'd EASILY be able to find another employer who'd pay them the money Sonic wasn't willing to.... wouldn't they? Instead, they're going to try to strong-arm Sonic into paying them that money. If they're worth it, why go to such extreme measures?

...and don't even get me started on the Teamsters. Where's Hoffa? :rolleyes: Is it a union or a gang?

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razoredge    0

Oh dear...  the union mentality strikes!  :Barf:

You know, if I owned a company & my employees unionized, I'd fire every friggin' one of them.  All the company wants to do is make money?  Well no crap!  Who the heck starts a company to lose money?  Maximizing profit is what every company on the face of the Earth is started for.  You don't start a company thinking, "Gee, I want to provide awesome jobs!  I want to make sure my employees are paid more than the job market will bear!  I want to pay for people's retirements, healthcare, childcare, tooth care, car care..."

Sheesh!  What a bunch of crybabies!

:duh: Well no crap! Everyone that goes to work goes to make money. Who the heck gets out of bed in the morning to go do some greedy wimps dirty work for them as a favor? If these corporate leaders cant earn enough money with their present company I suggest they go work elsewhere and quit blaming their shortfall on others.

What a bunch of crybabies !

Unions only lead by following the tactics already set forth in this country by corporate and government leaders (lawmakers ?). Thugs come in all dress codes...........get a clue

:lol:

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