Jesse Jackson is asking General Motors to create committees to look into the plight of the automaker's minority dealers and suppliers.
Jackson met in Chicago on Wednesday, Nov. 16, with representatives from the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers and the Florida Minority Community Reinvestment Coalition. The meeting also included GM minority dealers and suppliers.
The group is asking GM to establish an emergency fund to be used for purposes such as "recapitalization of stores, bridge loans, market development and technical assistance" for minority dealers and suppliers, Jackson told Automotive News on Thursday, Nov. 17, in a telephone interview.
"We recognize the market is somewhat depressed, that new product will not be readily available for the next six months," Jackson said. But he wants to make sure that automakers are not abandoning their minority dealers and suppliers.
"We have some good documentation of dealers and suppliers being ground up in the system," Jackson said.
Jackson wants GM to create a committee to focus on its minority dealer development program, paying special attention to "impaired dealers." In addition, he'd like a separate committee to deal with GM's minority supplier program.
The leaders of both committees, should report directly to GM CEO Rick Wagoner, Jackson said.
Dawin Wright, executive director of dealer development for GM, told Automotive News the automaker is prepared to work with Jackson and his team.
We are prepared to work with Reverend Jackson and his organization because we have a very strong commitment to our minority dealer program, Wright said. We are trying to increase the quality of our minority dealers, and as a result of that, obviously the quantity.
Wright said he was not at the meeting in Chicago.
Jackson's group also has asked GM not to terminate ethnic minority dealers and suppliers for the next 180 days. Jackson said he hopes the moratorium will allow GM officials to "analyze the complex issues that led to the unfortunate situation of having a significant number of minority dealers and suppliers in unprofitable situations."
Jackson's request for a moratorium echoes a request by NAMAD on Oct. 31. The group says GM ended 61 franchise agreements with minority dealers in the first half of this year.
Though the initial pleas have focused on GM, Jackson said he plans to have another meeting in late November that will include other automakers' dealers and suppliers. That meeting is expected to cover domestic and import automakers.
Jackson met last week with GM officials but not Wagoner, with whom he spoke earlier this year.
"GM admitted they had some errors of their own processes of handling the situation," Jackson said. "We want to meet again with Mr. Wagoner."
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