New General Motors chief executive Daniel Akerson, in his second day on the job, said Thursday, September 2, in a Labor Day greeting to GM’s 80,000 employees in the U.S. and Canada that he recently had a get-acquainted meeting with United Auto Workers president Bob King and the head of the union’s GM department, vice president Joe Ashton.
After the meeting at UAW 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 websites 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 Workforce Management sister publication Automotive News.
Akerson, 61, officially took the helm of GM on Wednesday, 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.”