Gadsden towing companies on strike after dispute with city

GADSDEN, Ala. (WIAT) — Tow truck drivers in Gadsden are on strike tonight. It all stems from a dispute over how the city deals with outside towing providers. The local companies say the city is being unfair by bending the rules for out of town wreckers at the expense of the local drivers.

Parked right across from Gadsden City Hall and the Gadsden Police Department, the city’s local towing companies say they aren’t responding to any calls from the city unless someone’s life is in danger.

On three occasions they say the city has allowed outside towing companies which aren’t licensed in Gadsden to work jobs they would normally get.

The towing companies have a rotation that allows each a chance to earn money when the city needs a wrecker.

Jimmi Kelton is one of the two truck company representatives who explained the situation to WIAT 42 News.

He says the straw that broke the camel’s back was a Friday wreck on an I-759 off ramp where a semi-carrying lumber wrecked and a company from Springville got the job.

“See our trucks have to go through inspection and we have to abide by the city ordinance. See they’re not following the rules. The city is not following the rules,” said Jimmi Kelton of Kelton Wrecker.

“What they’ve done it took about $10,000 minimum, $10-$20,000 off of one of these wrecker companies, out of their pocket by allowing this company to come in,” said Harvey Martin, Action Towing.

The striking tow truck drivers say that it could mean longer wait times for drivers in the area when wrecks block traffic.

“When they call us on a wreck like this we have 20 to 30 minutes to arrive on the scene or we’re turned around and were replaced by the next person on the rotation list,” said Jayme Kelton of Steve’s Towing.

“That leaves four wreckers in the City of Gadsden. We’re entitled to that job and you call a truck from 60 miles away and they have to wait and block the interstate for two hours. I mean how ridiculous is that?”

We’ve reached out to the City of Gadsden, the Gadsden Police Department, and the towing company from Springville, but at press time we had not received a response.

The drivers who are on strike in Gadsden say they will still respond to calls from customers and will continue their normal operations in the surrounding areas and with other government entities.

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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