Chicago Automobile Trade Association
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CATA Bulletin
April 14, 2003

 

State legislative session nearing conclusion

November 23, 2010

The Illinois General Assembly's spring session likely will expire without passage of the bill to re-plate pickup trucks with passenger plates and permit them to traverse Chicago's network of boulevards and Lake Shore Drive. The measure, House Bill 3527, has idled in committee for more than a month, after an amendment transformed the bill into one concerning license plates for disabled persons. Several other bills would affect dealers, but none has been forwarded to Gov. Blagojevich for his consideration. The spring session is scheduled to conclude May 31. • Senate Bill 1149 establishes deadlines to release vehicle titles. Under the bill, a title must be released within 21 days after receipt of payment to satisfy a security interest in a vehicle whose certificate of title is in the possession of a lienholder. If payment is in cash, cashier's check or certified check, the action must be taken within five days. Any lienholder who fails to act within those time frames would be subject to a $250 fine. The bill has passed the Senate and awaits a second reading in the House. • House Bill 136 forbids any new- or used-vehicle dealer or vehicle auctioneer from selling, trading or otherwise disposing of any vehicle bearing equipment, markings, or other indicia of police authority unless those indicia have been sufficiently removed, to eliminate all appearance of police authority. Violators would face a $500 to $1,000 fine. The bill passed the House and was scheduled for a final reading in the Senate on May 7. • House Bill 3106 would permit mechanics to retag cars with VINs as long as they notify the secretary of state's office and keep records about the replacement. Currently, only Illinois State Police may retag a car's VIN. The change would speed the time for mechanics to return repaired cars to their owners. The bill passed the House and was scheduled for a final reading in the Senate on May 7. A bill (HB 94) to amend title applications to include the applicant's age stalled after the secretary of state indicated the bill would cost $846,712 to implement. The bill insists at least one of a car's owners be at least 18 years old.
 

Unemployment claims deflected

November 23, 2010

One hundred fourteen CATA dealer members reported a combined 558 unemployment claims to the Martin Boyer Co. during the first quarter of 2003. The company's efforts saved those dealers a total of $1.15 million in benefits by contesting the claims. Martin Boyer monitors any unemployment claims against its clients. About 200 CATA dealers are clients of the company. Claims that can be protested and subsequently denied help minimize an employer's unemployment tax rate. The rate can vary between .06 percent and 6.8 percent of each employee's first $9,000 of earnings. The average unemployment tax rate among Illinois employers is 3.1 percent, or $279 annually. "The unemployment tax is really the only controllable tax, in that it's experiencedriven," said Paul Schardt, senior vice president of Martin Boyer. An ex-employee's claim affects the employer's tax rate for three years. Client fees amount to $2.10 per employee, per fiscal quarter. For the fee, Martin Boyer monitors all unemployment claims, files any appeals, represents the client at any hearings, verifies the benefit charge statements and confirms the client's unemployment tax rate. Martin Boyer has represented CATA members since 1979. To discuss retaining the company, call Schardt at 312-381-8241.
 

Pickups on Lake Shore Drive bill stalled

November 23, 2010

An amendment to state legislation that would permit pickup trucks on Chicago's network of boulevards, including Lake Shore Drive, so severely altered the measure that its original intent has vanished. Rep. Kevin Joyce (D-Worth), who sits on the House Transportation & Motor Vehicles Committee, introduced House Bill 3527 in February, thenamended the measure in March. On April 4, Joyce essentially mothballed the bill by assigning it to the House Rules Committee. The bill originally intended to allow pickups, vans and recreational vehicles that weigh up to 8,000 pounds to be registered as first division vehicles and display passenger vehicle license plates. Chicago currently bans B-plated vehicles from operating on Lake Shore Drive and boulevards. In its present state, HB 3527 concentrates on license plates for persons with disabilities. Chicago and CATA officials will meet to discuss sticking points in the bill's earlier draft and try to revive the bill's original focus.
 

NADA offers seminar on new Safeguards Rule

November 23, 2010

A two-hour seminar to help dealers comply with a new federal regulation on safeguarding customer information will be conducted on the Internet on April 24. Compliance with the new FTC requirement is mandatory beginning May 23. Dealers must develop, implement and maintain a comprehensive written Information Security Program. The "Standards for Safeguarding Customer Information," or Safeguards Rule, is in addition to, yet independent of, the FTC's Privacy Rule, which took effect in 2001. In essence, the Privacy Rule regards how financial institutions, including dealerships, share any information they obtain from consumers who secure or merely apply for financial products or services. The Safeguards Rule addresses how that information is protected. To prepare dealers for the compliance date, NADA attorneys will outline dealer obligations under the Safeguards Rule, including: • designating an Information Security Program coordinator, • conducting a risk assessment, • developing and implementing information safeguards, • overseeing service providers, and • reevaluating the program periodically. Registration is $99. For more information and to register, visit www.nada.org or call 800-252-6232.
 

AIADA Automotive Congress May 20-21 in Washington, D.C.

November 23, 2010

International nameplate dealers will converge on Washington, D.C., May 20-21 for the American International Automobile Dealers Association's 26th annual Automotive Congress. Held each May in our nation's Capital, the Congress gathers dealers, dealership personnel and industry executives for the industry's largest legislative conference. Registration is $495 for dealers and $250 for each additional dealership employee. To register, call 1-800-GOAIADA. Activities are at the J.W. Marriott in Washington, D.C. Attendees receive up-to-the-minute briefings on top issues, then meet with their congressional representatives. Two AIADA accolades, The All-Star Dealer Award and the Minuteman Award, are presented during the Congress to outstanding dealers. The All-Star Dealer Award calls attention to the fact that automobile retailers do more than sell and service vehicles. In the cities and towns where their businesses are located, they also are outstanding community and business leaders who generously contribute their time and financial support to local civic, youth and charitable organizations. The Minuteman Award recognizes dealers for outstanding political activism, organizational and leadership skills, responsiveness and exceptional enthusiasm. Named for the fast-acting Minutemen of the Revolutionary War, the award credits a dealer's ability to respond at a moment's notice when called upon for grassroots action. Founded in 1970, the AIADA works to preserve a free market for international automobiles in the United States by advocating this mission before the federal government and is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the international automobile industry's value to the American economy.
 

NADA minority dealer elections near

November 23, 2010

Nominating ballots for NADA directors at-large will be mailed to minority and women members May 2. Larry T. Brown, an incumbent director and principal of Star Toyota in Merrillville, Ind., is seeking re-election. Brown, first elected in 1997, is seeking another three year term representing minority members east of the Mississippi River. There are four NADA at-large directors, two from each side of the divide. Nominating ballots must be returned not later than May 23 in the pre-addressed, postage-paid envelope that will accompany the ballots. Ballots postmarked after May 23 will not be counted. The names of all nominees who appear on at least 10 percent of all ballots cast shall be placed on election ballots. Those election ballots would be sent to minority and women members June 27. If only one candidate receives at least 10 percent of the votes on the nomination ballots, that nominee shall be declared elected without further balloting.
 

Correction

November 23, 2010

An article in the March 17 edition of this newsletter about employees who are on military leave contained certain information relating to pension obligations that requires further explanation. Specifically, CATA dealers who are signatory to the standard labor contracts with IAM Local 701 or Teamsters Local 731 are not required to make pension contributions for employees represented by those unions while the employees serve in the military. Governing plan documents specifically provide that the Local 701 and 731 Pension Funds, not individual dealers, are liable for those required contributions. Questions regarding pension contributions for employees working under other union contracts, or who are not represented by a union, should be directed to Franczek Sullivan P.C., as the answer will depend on the specific plan and contract language at issue. Franczek Sullivan represents CATA dealers in labor and employment matters. The Chicago law firm has prepared a detailed memorandum outlining what CATA dealers should know about their obligations to workers serving in the military. For a copy, call Mike Palmer at 312- 786-6571.
 

Dealer participation vital for success of AYES

November 23, 2010

Facing a depressed economy and wartime uncertainties, many employers have slowed-or frozen-hiring activity. But spring inevitably follows winter, and the current economic state will turn. An important season is about to bloom for the Automotive Youth Educational Services program, with high schoolers enrolled in AYES prepared to embark on yearlong technician internships. However, many more local dealers are needed to participate. "If you're looking for techs in 2004, it's time to look to the schools now and grow them yourself," said Jim Butcher, the AYES manager for Illinois. "Do you build when you're slow or do you build when you're busy?" The industry is facing an estimated shortage of 65,000 technicians. Nearly  all automobile manufacturers support AYES, which operates at more than 250 schools in 41 states. Internships begin each June for students who will become high school seniors in the fall. The AYES program is important because 25 percent of 18- year-olds say they already have selected a career path. Exposing the interns to dealership work could sway them to a career there. To learn more about AYES, call Butcher at 630-424-6020. Butcher works at the CATA in Oakbrook Terrace and coordinates activities between the area's five AYES high schools and participating dealers.
 

Convertible sales dip slightly, but still strong

November 23, 2010

Chicago represented the fourth biggest market for convertible sales in 2002, and of the 10 best-selling markets, five are in the nation's Rust Belt, statistics from R.L. Polk & Co. show. Total convertible registrations in the United States last year reached 302,320, a drop of 2.7 percent from 2001. Despite the drop, 2002 was just the second year since 1973 that convertible registrations topped the 300,000 mark. The Chrysler Sebring topped the list of ragtop sales in 2002, after a two-year hiatus. The Ford Mustang and Thunderbird placed second and third, respectively. Los Angeles scored as the top market for convertible sales. Colder weather cities with strong sales included New York (2nd), Philadelphia (6th), Washington, D.C. (8th), and Detroit (9th). "Convertible sales are not restricted to warm weather climates," said Polk's Lonnie Miller. "Larger DMAs around the country are important convertible markets. However, when we look at retail convertible registrations as a percentage of overall passenger car sales, warmer weather markets come to the top of the list."
 

Industry will remain strong: Esmond

November 23, 2010

The 16.8 million new vehicles sold in the United States in 2002 did represent a decline from the prior year's total. But Donald Esmond said any doomsayers fail to mention that the top four sales years ever occurred in the past five years. "There's plenty of business out there, but every dealer will have to work harder and smarter to get it," Esmond, senior vice president and general manager of Toyota Division, told a gathering of Illinois and Missouri dealers in late March. "Customers want good products and they're continuing to buy them in numbers unprecedented a few years ago," he said. Sales remain strong even in a wartime economy, he added, because customers see improved value in today's vehicles. Esmond said successful dealers will adapt to shifting demographics. He said disposable income is expected to grow, leaving more money for car purchases; the number of affluent households will increase, helping sales of upscale vehicles; and the Generation Y population in seven years will outstrip Baby Boomers. Esmond pointed to Toyota's launch of Scion to capture the attention of the younger generation's influential trend-setters. "In the auto industry," Esmond said, "the road to prosperity is paved with good relations. As long as we are responsive to our customers, our business will grow."
 

Senators lobbied over class action suit bill

November 23, 2010

The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled April 10 to debate legislation designed to push more class action cases into federal courts, to help unclog state courts and ensure defendants and plaintiffs are treated fairly. Under the bill, cases involving more than $5 million, or ones in which any of the plaintiffs live in a different state than the defendant, could be sent to a federal court. Senate Bill 274, nicknamed the Class Action Fairness Act of 2003, could reach the floor of the Senate in June. The American International Automobile Dealers Association has followed the measure closely. The AIADA urges all dealers to appeal to their senators to support the bill. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Illinois) has indicated he would back the bill. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) has not voiced support, but he reportedly would consider that. Class action reform is important to dealers who, as highly visible business owners, are vulnerable to frivolous lawsuits brought by unscrupulous lawyers seeking to make large profits. And manufacturers and other businesses, if relieved of the threat of frivolous lawsuits, would be encouraged to introduce new products and contribute to the economy through job opportunities and overall business expansion. The Class Action Fairness Act of 2003 would establish a consumer class action bill of rights, including a provision for judicial review and approval of noncash settlements, and standardized settlement notification information.
 

Congratulations!

November 23, 2010

DaimlerChrysler named 120 dealership employees nationwide to its Service Contracts' Inner Circle, forextraordinary commitment to customer service, superior product knowledge and top sales satisfaction index. Local winners include • Juan Aguilar and Scott Cogan, Larry Roesch Chrysler-Jeep • Gus Babalis, Lukas Domagala and Mark Schiff, Sherman Dodge • Philip Berg, Mancari's of Orland Hills • Dominic Ford, Elmhurst Dodge • Ben Neeley, Mancari's Chrysler-Jeep Acura Division of American Honda Co. named three area dealerships as part of its 2002 Acura Precision Team, for high marks in sales, service and customer satisfaction. Among the 78 dealers nationwide are McGrath Acura in Glenview, McGrath Acura of Westmont, and Acura of Libertyville. Two area dealers-William Madden (Knauz Continental Autos in Lake Bluff) and Michael Rosengarden (Autohaus on Edens in Northbrook)- are among 64 Mercedes dealers nationwide to be named in the 2002 Mercedes-Benz "Best of the Best" Dealer Recognition Award, for professional excellence. Seventy-six U.S. Cadillac dealerships were named as 2002 Cadillac SFE Platinum Dealers, for achieving the best sales, service and customer satisfaction, including four local dealerships: Ettleson Cadillac- Oldsmobile, Hodgkins; Steve Foley Cadillac, Northbrook; Patrick Cadillac, Schaumburg; and Weil Cadillac, Libertyville.
 
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