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Getty Station Owners Holding Strong in Protest

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- More than 20 Getty station owners from Staten Island and Brooklyn, N.Y., as well as New Jersey, gathered yesterday at Nino's Auto Repair to protest what they claim are unfair gasoline commissions that make it impossible to stay in business.

According to the Staten Island Advance, many Getty station owners have closed up shop and will remain that way until they receive higher gasoline commissions. Station owners are seeking a 15-cent commission per gallon of gas sold, compared to the 6.5 cents they receive now, a rate that has remained unchanged since 1996.

Getty station owners contend they are losing money every day on gas by paying an average of $189.57 per day for fees and labor costs versus receiving only $97.50 daily for commissions, the report stated.

"We want the distributor to sit down at the table with us and come up with a proposal," Giovanni Cutillo, owner of Nino's Auto Repair located at 1820 Richmond Road in Staten Island, told the Advance.

Cutillo is also the president of the Petroleum Dealers Group -- representing more than 400 Getty stations in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. "We will remain closed in protest until this happens," he said.

Getty Petroleum Marketing Inc. (GPMI) formerly leased the properties to the station owners under its own master lease with Getty Realty Corp. But following GPMI's bankruptcy declaration on Dec. 5, 2011, the leases were sold to Lukoil.

The protest has caught the attention of New York State Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn). Michael Arvanites, her chief of staff, attended yesterday's protest.

"These small-business owners make peanuts off their gas sales, on average less than 5 cents per gallon," he told the news outlet. "Their main income is in vending or food sales and the body shop/garage."

In addition to protesting allegedly low gasoline commissions, the Getty station operators are asking for long-term leases. Many have operated on month-to-month leases since GPMI’s bankruptcy.

"We want three- to five-year leases for our [properties]," Mohammed Ismail, operator of the Getty station at 1881 Forest Ave. in Graniteville, N.Y., told the newspaper.

Calls placed by the Advance to Lukoil and Getty Realty went unanswered yesterday.

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