Broadcast live from Detroit this morning, the TODAY show featured two key GM interviewees, CEO Rick Wagoner and Vice President of Global Design Ed Welburn. Earlier today we reported on Welburn’s reveal of the Chevrolet Beat, which he said will debut at the 2009 North American International Auto Show this weekend. Wagoner appeared to discuss the United Auto Worker concessions talks currently underway and how he approached the calls for his resignation during congressional hearings last year.
Regarding the UAW concessions, Wagoner said he is convinced GM and the union will iron out a plan that will meet the restructuring terms of the federal loans the automaker received. “I’m confident that we’ll be able to get the kinds of changes we’ll need,” Wagoner said on the show.
Last year, Congress failed to negotiate a deal with the UAW to reduce its wages to the rates of transplant automakers. The issue has been spotlighted in the news for several weeks, but Wagoner says the compensation gap between UAW workers and transplant workers is exaggerated. Ron Gettelfinger, the President of the UAW, also appeared on TODAY, saying that the $10 per hour gap being floated around in the news is an inaccurate estimate.
Wagoner also said that resignation was never an option for him during the congressional hearings that took place late last year. Some Congressmen vociferously made their opinions on the matter heard, calling for Wagoner, who has led GM since 2000, to resign. “I didn’t think that would help the bailout move forward,” he said.
Wagoner said merger talks with Chrysler have been abandoned, and GM will focus on reviving itself instead. “I think at this point it’s been set aside. Our priority now is GM and what we can do in this smaller U.S. market.”