STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.--Staten Island Getty gas station owners ended a strike on Wednesday after public officials asked them to resume pumping gasoline in the wake of a winter storm, reported The Staten Island Advance. In return, public officials promised to spearhead a "sit-down" with Getty's parent company for a resolution.
A notice on the owners' website--www.gettydealers.org--read: "By request of government officials and in the interest of our customers, with the impending weather threatening our area we will immediately begin selling gas. We will still continue to work on resolving our issues amicably with the gas distributors."
The website warned of eviction threats: "They will have to go to court to throw you out, and we will have our day in court if they want to go that route. It added, "The gas distributors are approaching with promises. Be aware, we went through this before. All promises must go to the dealers council and in-house attorney."
The public officials and about 50 Getty station owners from Staten Island, Brooklyn, Bronx, Long Island, Westchester and Philadelphia attended a strategy meeting on Wednesday at Giovanni Cutillo's Nino's Auto Repair, a Getty station in Grant City, N.Y.
Cutillo is president of the Petroleum Dealers Group, which represents more than 400 Getty stations throughout New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Eleven stations were in danger of being evicted from their leased property in 10 days if station owners continue to protest the small commissions and the lack of long-term lease agreements, said the report.
Hudson Petroleum Realty Inc., New York, hand delivered default notices dated March 4 to Getty station owners who stopped pumping gasoline on Monday. The notices, delivered on Tuesday, said station owners will be evicted from their properties if they default on their license agreement, which requires them to pump fuel daily.
"The dealer is refusing to offer Hudson's Getty-branded motor fuel for sale at the site," wrote Terry Fitzgerald, vice president of marketing for Hudson Petroleum Realty, in a notice to Nino's, according to the newspaper.
If Nino's doesn't "cure the above referenced default," Hudson will immediately terminate the license agreement and Nino's Auto Repair will have to "immediately vacate the site," the letter said.
The station owners said earlier this week that they would remain closed until they receive a 15-cent commission instead of the 6.5 cents they now get on every gallon of gasoline that they sell. That figure, they said, is unchanged since 1996.
The notice is Hudson Petroleum Realty's "way of scaring people," Cutillo told the paper. "I got a phone call on Friday from Hudson Petroleum Realty and they told me if you don't stop this nonsense, you'll have to pay heavy consequences."
A typical Getty station pumps 1,500 gallons of gas per day, according to the report, and that yields $97.50 per day in commissions. It is not enough to offset the average of $189.57 per day for all fees and labor costs, leaving stations with a daily average revenue loss of about $92.07.
The owners are also demanding more favorable leases--many have been leasing month-to-month after Getty Petroleum Marketing Inc. (GPMI) declared bankruptcy in Dec. 2011 and it sold the leases to Lukoil. "We want three-to-five-year leases for our property," Mohammad Ismail, who owns a Getty station in Graniteville, N.Y., with Firoz Mithawala, told the paper.
"These small-business owners make peanuts off their gas sales, on average less than 5 cents on the gallon; their main income is in vending or food sales and the body shop/garage," Michael Arvanites, deputy chief of staff for state Senator Diane Savino (D), who attended the protest, told the paper.
Station owners say they were initially lured to open a Getty station by the company's promise of "competitive pricing."
Cutillo said there used to be more Getty stations on the Island, but the low commission drove them out of business.