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Straub Automotive Holds Donation Drive for Toys for Tots - Wheeling Intelligencer

photo by: Emma Delk

Bryan Fato, right, executive manager of Straub Automotive, hands a $1,000 check for Toys for Tots to Marine Corps League Commandant Fred Brunner, left, Friday in the dealership’s showroom at The Highlands.

TRIADELPHIA — Legos, dolls, Play-Doh and more filled the Straub Hyundai showroom at The Highlands as employees and customers gathered to donate the over 250 toys they collected for Toys for Tots.

A $1,000 check was also given to the program by the dealership, the funds for which were provided through a raffle to win a Honda Motocompacto Scooter.

Describing the month-long toy drive as employees “having an idea and sticking with it,” Executive Manager of Straub Automotive Bryan Fato commended his employees for not only their generous donations but for coming up with the idea to hold a drive.

“The team members wanted to do something to give back to the community, and we know that Christmas can be especially stressful for many families,” explained Fato. “This allows us to partner with Toys for Tots in order to be able to provide some Christmas joy for underprivileged children throughout Christmas.”

The toys collected will go straight into the hands of kids on Dec. 18, when Toys for Tots will distribute them. Marine Corps League Commandant Fred Brunner explained that each child will receive a number that will correspond to a bag filled with toys.

“We try to be as generous as we can with the toys, so getting donations as big as this one really helps us out,” noted Brunner.

With this being the first time in 12 years the Marine Corps League has held the Toys for Tots program, Brunner was thrilled to see local organizations and businesses become so invested and involved.

“We really thought it would be a touch-and-go thing,” explained Brunner. “As you can see from today, the response has been fantastic.”

Seeing the Toys for Tots drive as a way to funnel employees’ giving spirit, Fato said team members engaged in some friendly competition throughout the drive to see who could give the most.

Employee involvement in the drive went beyond the donations, as some team members showed up in costume on Friday to spread the Christmas spirit. Santa Claus, the Grinch and the “Chicken Man” from “Toy Story 2” paid a visit to Straub Automotive, with the Grinch taking the Motocompacto Scooter for a spin around the dealership after employee Kevin Cook was announced as the winner of the raffle for it.

“Kevin isn’t in today, but he’ll be happy to know about his big win when he’s back,” said Fato.

Beyond employees giving their talent and treasure for the drive, Straub Automotive customers became involved as well. Any customer who donated a toy during the month-long drive received a discount from the dealership.

“There’s an awful lot here, and it’s truly a testament to not only our employees but also our customers,” said Fato while surveying their end haul.

With more than 250 employees and customers contributing to the drive by its end, Fato did not even know the end count of how many toys were donated. Seeing the success of the first year of the drive, Fato added they already had plans for next year in the works.

“We’re kind of going to play it by ear, maybe something a little different, maybe the same,’ he said. “We’re certainly going to continue having a donation drive every year.”

Being able to channel his employees’ charitable efforts is important to Fato, as he was touched by the time and money his team members put into the drive this year.

“One of the things that we look for whenever we’re hiring people is ‘Are they good people?'” said Fato. “I believe this is the ultimate testament to that, for them to be just so generous in giving for this is fantastic.”

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Stellantis announces potential layoffs at Toledo's Jeep Assembly plant: Why now? - WTOL

Art Wheaton, a labor studies professor at Cornell University in New York, said Stellantis' claim is that they need to cut back because of emissions rules.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Workers at the Toledo Assembly Complex and the Mack Assembly Complex in Detroit received a notice from Stellantis Thursday that thousands of them could be laid off next year.

But why now?

Art Wheaton, a labor studies professor at Cornell University in New York, said Stellantis' official line is that they need to cut back because of emissions rules from the California Air Resources Board.

"It's literally designed to make less production so that they're not shipping any more gas engines to the 14 states that CARB is counting," Wheaton said. "They're trying to reduce the production. The easiest way for Stellantis to reduce the production is to go from three shifts to two shifts."

Wheaton and Jeff Gilbert, an automotive reporter for Detroit's WWJ radio, said there might be another reason behind the layoffs that Stellantis is less likely to talk about: sagging sales.

"The Wrangler and the Bronco have increased sales overall of off-road vehicles," Gilbert said. "But for the Wrangler's share, it shrunk those sales. And there are pretty big inventories of the Wrangler, so that's an issue at work as well as the emissions issues in California."

The Toledo Assembly Complex produces the Wrangler. It all adds up to thousands of people in Toledo and Detroit preparing to miss out on a steady paycheck.

According to Stellantis, temporary workers will be the largest group affected by the layoffs representing about 84% of the total layoffs. The announcement came about a month after the automaker reached a new contract with United Auto Workers members that most analysts hailed as a victory for workers, including gains for temporary workers.

"Then they get rewarded by getting discarded, or at least laid off," Wheaton said. "Hopefully they can land a job someplace else or in another sector."

The layoffs are not a certainty, though. Gilbert said Stellantis has been creating a level of skepticism about the whole move, saying the jobs could come back again in the future. He also says there are insider whispers in Detroit that it's all a ploy to change the emissions policies.

"Some analysts have suggested that it may be political theater putting pressure on the UAW, hoping the UAW will put pressure on President Biden and hoping President Biden will put pressure on California," Gilbert said.

So, workers are left to hold their breath while they wait and see how it plays out.

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