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While a lot of folks on Kos are focused on the President's speech last night and the fact more troops are getting pushed out to fight a war many are weary of already, I think it is important -- at least for me -- to keep my focus on the war going on at home. Here at home workers are losing their jobs in droves and the economy might be getting better for a select few, but not yet the working class/middle class of this country.

Today a new report called "Damaged When Delivered - How the Bailed-Out Auto Giants are Ripping Off American Consumers" came out. Below the fold is the press release the Teamsters put out on this issue.

Representatives from the Teamsters Union, consumer advocates from Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) and Consumer Action, and members of Congress announced the findings of the report "Damaged When Delivered?" during a press teleconference today. The report is an inside look at the risks to public safety and consumer confidence when new GM and Fiat-Chrysler vehicles are delivered by cut-rate and inexperienced carhaul companies.

Auto giants Fiat-Chrysler and GM are trying to change how automobiles are delivered to dealer showrooms by utilizing cut-rate carhaul companies that only hold the distinction of being the lowest bidder. GM and Fiat-Chrysler’s actions are transforming the auto transport industry from one that provides stable, good-paying jobs that support the drivers and their families to one that is cutthroat, cheap and of low quality.

"’Damaged When Delivered?’ documents the incorrect and unsafe practices of cut-rate carriers being used by Fiat-Chrysler and GM across the country," said Fred Zuckerman, Director of the Teamsters Auto Transporters Industry Division. "This report has been distributed to every member of Congress, to the board of directors at both companies and to every Chrysler and GM dealer in the country."

During the call, Rep. Joe Baca, (D-California) spoke at length about not only the threat these practices pose to the driving public, but stressed the importance of protecting good-paying jobs in an economy that has millions of hardworking Americans worried about where their next paycheck will come from.

"If GM and Chrysler move to a broker-based model to transport cars to dealerships, good-paying American jobs will be lost and the safety of the carhauling industry will be jeopardized," said Baca. "With over $81 billion of taxpayer money invested in GM and Chrysler through the TARP program, an irresponsible decision of this nature is tantamount to a violation of the public trust."

Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Missouri) echoed this sentiment, reinforcing the need for companies to create – not eliminate good-paying jobs in America.

"It is outrageous that after taking billions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers, GM and Fiat-Chrysler would try to destroy good paying American jobs that offer a living wage with decent benefits," Clay said. "I can assure you that Congress will hold them accountable for this misguided action. When the taxpayers became the lead investors to save these companies, which I supported, we did so to preserve our manufacturing base and to save as many middle-class jobs as possible. We didn't invest in these companies to subsidize nonunion car haulers who have little training and even less concern for safety. That's the bottom line here."

GM and Fiat-Chrysler continue their attempt to adopt this flawed carhaul model despite it being plagued by the high-turnover rate of low-paid, inexperienced drivers employed by cut-rate companies that use inadequate and improper equipment that can cause damage to new vehicles before they even reach the dealership.

This practice endangers the vehicles they are delivering to unsuspecting drivers. This not only threatens the safety of the driving public, but compromises consumer confidence in these products. Representatives from consumer advocacy groups Consumer Action and CARS voiced their opposition to GM and Fiat-Chrysler’s actions.

"With up to 28,000 pounds of autos per carrier traveling our roadways, I want to know the vehicles are properly secured," said Linda Sherry, Director of National Priorities for Consumer Action, who spoke on the call. "Inexperienced carhaulers are making mistakes that threaten the safety of car buyers and motorists."

"Car buyers are going to be subjected to the risk of being sold a supposedly ‘new’ car that has sustained prior damage. Thanks to laws the manufacturers and dealers have lobbied for in the states, they may be able to get away with selling you badly damaged goods—as new," said Rosemary Shahan, President of CARS.

The report "Damaged When Delivered?" is available online at Carbuyersbeware.com.

Originally posted to Union Review on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:36 AM PST.

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