Schock joing forces to battle Chsrysler dealership closings

DeWayne Bartels
U.S. Congressman Aaron Schock, left, speaks out Sunday at a press conference on the pending closing of Uftring Chrysler in North Peoria. Looking on is Grary Uftring.

U.S. Congressman Aaron Schock, (R-Peoria) on Sunday, came to the defense of North Peoria car dealer Gary Ufting, whose Chrysler dealership on University is scheduled for closure early next month.

Schock said he called the press conference to “express outrage” at the decision of the bankruptcy judge and the Presidential Auto Task Force to close dealerships.

“My frustration is not that companies are going out of business,” Schock said.

“My concern is (the government) has started to pick winners and losers.”

Schock said the decision to close the Uftring dealership at 3905 N. University made no sense since the dealership is profitable. He said it would remain open if a bankruptcy judge had not tapped it for closure.

“It seems ironic at a time we want to create jobs, we are eliminating them,” Schock said.

Uftring said he is proud to be a Jeep and Chrysler dealer.

“We hope this will change,” Uftring said. “We have people making decisions about our industry who know nothing about it.”

To protest the action, Schock is one of more than 60 congressmen to pen a letter to Steven Rattner, counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury.

The letter states, “We are writing to express our serious concerns regarding the demands by the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry for the rapid and potentially disorderly elimination of thousands of Chrysler and General Motors dealerships.  This action, if implemented, could put approximately 150,000 people out of work. Since these dealer reductions and its ripple effects would have a serious and adverse impact on the United States, we would like to ask that you revisit the forced closure of thousands of dealerships.”

The letter says the task force is relying on a misperception that new car dealers are a cost burden to auto manufacturers. 

“This is not true, as on average, about 90 percent of an automakers’ revenue comes from dealers purchasing the automakers’ vehicles. Far from saving money, a rapid reduction in dealerships would further reduce GM’s and Chrysler’s revenue and market share,” the letter says.  

 “Auto dealers are anchors in communities throughout the country and many times ownership is passed down from generation to generation. In addition, many auto dealerships are minority owned and have traditionally provided strong local community support. Each dealership creates an average of 52 neighborhood jobs. And, these positions typically pay twice the national average as other retail-sector jobs. Dealers have invested about $233 billion.”