GM and Chrysler dealers have, naturally, been protesting their shutdowns—some impending from before the bankruptcies. Their stories range from the heartbreaking to the absurd, all signifying how dramatically the landscape of the auto industry has changed.
Yesterday President Obama signed legislation giving ousted dealers access to a neutral, six-month arbitration process to get them (possibly) reinstated. The companies must inform the 2,150 dealers they closed why they were terminated and read them their rights under this new law. The dealers have 40 days to seek arbitration.
Some of these guys will obviously have a case. The companies, particularly Chrysler, dealt with them harshly, gave them credit and then withdrew it, let them buy lots of inventory, and then pulled the plug. There are stories galore about how dealers, especially in rural areas, were the economic lights of their towns, sponsored Little League teams, helped old ladies and handicapped people buy cars, and so on.
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