Posted: May 11, 2005 10:36 am EST

Chrysler parking policy challenged; employees cars towed (~11 col. in.)
by Derek R. Smith, The Kokomo (Ind.) Tribune
    Additional Information:

    By Derek R. Smith
    CNHI News Service
    KOKOMO, Ind. — DaimlerChrysler employee Donald Campbell defied the new parking policy at Kokomo’s Indiana Transmission Plant, but he won’t be charged for being towed.
    “I did it to protest this policy because I don’t like it,” he said. “This is a battle I decided I wanted to fight.”
    Campbell, 37, said he owns two Chrysler vehicles: a 2002 Jeep Liberty and a
    2004 Dodge Ram. He said he decided to drive his 1989 GMC pickup Monday and intentionally park it in the Chrysler products-only lot.
    Blue lines separate areas designated as “Competitor Vehicle Parking” and “DaimlerChrysler Vehicle Parking” in the ITP Plant 1 lots. A “DaimlerChrysler Parking Only” sign marks the dividing line at the ITP 2 lot.
    The plant posted signs and painted the defining lines about two weeks ago. Last week, employees began receiving noncompliance warnings leading up to this week’s towing enforcement.
    About 80 percent of the parking spaces are designated for Chrysler vehicles only.
    Chrysler spokesman Edward Saenz said a survey indicated 90 percent of Chrysler workers drive Chrysler vehicles.
    “It’s not like it’s 50/50,” he said.
    Saenz emphasized the parking policy applies to all Chrysler competitors, including foreign models.
    “It is a management initiative, but we believe it has wide support from the employees,” Saenz said last week. “It’s a local decision.”
    ITP workers said last week they were notified that non-Chrysler vehicles parked in Chrysler areas will be towed to Indianapolis at a cost of $200, beginning this week.
    Instead, Campbell’s car was towed about 3½ miles to Kokomo’s Fisher Towing Service.
    Jim Davis, owner of Fisher Towing, said he towed two cars from ITP Monday without knowing the specifics of the new policy. Upon learning the background, Davis decided not only to stop towing from ITP, but not to charge the owners of the vehicles he’d already towed.
    “I thought we were towing them for being parked illegally until I learned the full scoop of it,” said Davis. “Now we’re not going to do it.”
    Davis isn’t alone.
    Don Ellmore, owner of Martin Wrecker Service, turned down an opportunity to tow from ITP.
    “We backed off for customer relations reasons,” he said. “It’s just not worth it to aggravate somebody.”
    Saenz said Chrysler doesn’t expect towing enforcement to be an issue.
    “We’re not expecting to tow people,” he said. “We don’t expect that to happen very often.”

    Derek Smith writes for The Kokomo (Ind.) Tribune.

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