GM’s new CEO meets with UAW leaders, says let’s work together
Automotive News | September 2, 2010 – 4:23 pm EST
UPDATED: 9/2/10 4:47 p.m. ET
|DETROIT — New General Motors Co. CEO Daniel Akerson, in his second day on the job, said today in a Labor Day greeting to GM’s 80,000 employees in the United States and Canada that he recently had a get-acquainted meeting with UAW President Bob King and the head of the union’s GM department, Vice President Joe Ashton.
After the meeting at the UAW’s headquarters in Detroit, Akerson said the leaders concluded that, “while we will not always see eye to eye on everything, GM will succeed to the extent that management and labor work together.”
The note was posted on GM’s internal Web sites and distributed to the automaker’s plants. It was directed at all U.S. and Canadian employees, including 52,000 hourly workers represented by the UAW.
GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson confirmed the authenticity of the letter obtained by Automotive News.
Akerson, 61, officially took the helm of the UAW yesterday, succeeding Ed Whitacre, who will retire as chairman by the end of the year.
GM won major concessions from the union as part of its government bailout last year. And the automaker faces master negotiations with the UAW next year when a four-year contract expires in September 2011.
King said recently that the union intends to restore some of those concessions as GM, Ford and Chrysler recover and become more profitable.
Akerson wrote the note to thank workers for their efforts. He especially saluted them for working through the summer when the automaker normally would shut down for model changeovers.
“Many in the U.S. worked through the traditional summer downtime to keep our momentum going,” he said.
Akerson, who mostly guided telecommunications companies during his pre-GM tenure, said he comes from a union family.
Wrote Akerson: “I know on a very personal level the good things that unions can do.”
GM CEO DAN AKERSON’S LETTER TO EMPLOYEES
As Labor Day approaches in the U.S. and Canada, I would like to wish everyone at General Motors a safe, happy holiday weekend. I also ask that we pause for moment to reflect on what this day means as we celebrate labor’s many contributions here and around the world.
Of course, labor’s role in building up this nation and others is well recognized and rightly so. And, coming from a union family, I know on a very personal level the good things that unions can do.
I met recently with UAW President Bob King and Vice President-GM Department Joe Ashton at Solidarity House, and we agreed that, while we will not always see eye to eye on everything, GM will succeed to the extent that management and labor work together. I believe very deeply in that.
At GM, the devotion by employees to design, build and sell the world’s best vehicles shines through every day. Around the world, we rely on the hard work of our designers, engineers, union represented employees, marketers and corporate staff in the most challenging circumstances. Many in the U.S. worked though our traditional summer downtime to keep our momentum going.
Please accept my sincere thanks for your commitment to General Motors. To employees around the world please know that your work is appreciated. To those in the U.S. and Canada, enjoy this three-day holiday. There will always be more hard work ahead of us, but because of your dedication, I have great optimism for GM’s future.