| -

ATLANTA — A senior vice president with the American Arbitration Association told Auto Remarketing Tuesday that about 1,550 to 1,560 Chrysler and General Motors dealers are seeking reinstatement via arbitration.

The deadline for dealers to file for arbitration was Monday at midnight, and the AAA is acting as administrator for the process.  

"It seems to be about 1,550 to 1,560 cases right now, but we still have some arriving by mail that were posted yesterday. And we still have to make sure we are not receiving additional copies of prior filings," explained India Johnson, senior vice president with the American Arbitration Association.

The association is also working with the involved parties currently to help them decide on an arbitrator.

"The legislation asks the parties to try to agree on an arbitrator and we are working with them now on that; if they do not agree on an arbitrator, the legislation directs them to ask us to appoint and we will be able to do that. But we want to give them an opportunity to jointly agree first," Johnson told Auto Remarketing.

Furthermore, she noted that the legislation requires all final submissions to be in by June 14 and the arbitrator is given seven days to render a written award.

"Thus, if any hearings are closed on June 14, the last awards on any of those cases must be rendered by June 21," Johnson indicated.

Unfortunately, the association could not give the numbers of how many of the dealers filing are GM-related and how many are Chrysler-related. 

While GM officials have been relatively open in discussing the arbitration process, Chrysler has been a bit more tight-lipped, with reports coming out that this automaker may even sue in an attempt to halt arbitration.

For instance, during a press conference Monday Ed Whitacre, GM chairman and CEO, was asked if there was a threshold, of sorts, where taking back a large number of dealers could slow the automaker's resurgence.

"I'm not sure it will weaken us. We'll just have to examine this and see the circumstances under which they were terminated and see what it looks like now and make some decisions going forward, but I'm anticipating we'll get through this and get through it real well … ," he noted.

"It's not going to slow our progress, I'm confident of that," Whitacre shared.