New management at GM has made it clear that politicians will stay out of the car business. GM renegotiated its deal with labor to bring employee salaries in line with its competitors. This new labor agreement with the United Auto Workers union maintains a low, break-even level and gives employees a direct stake in company’s performance. If the company doesn’t do well, people don’t make as much! Gone are automatic, built-in incentives for employees or overly generous retirement packages. The company has been restructured to carry less debt on its balance sheet — $4.2 billion in automotive debt at close of Q3 2011, versus $45.8 billion for the old GM.
There are many new managers in top positions and a new board of directors is in place. Seven of eleven board members are new to GM. But at the end of the day, GM’s resurgence is based on a fundamental decision to get back to work. The company is simply building better cars, trucks and SUVs, and no amount of bailout money would have helped if the people at GM, from the CEO to the line worker, weren’t working harder to help return this company to profitability.
Before Election Day, I am sure we will have to endure seeing more photos and video of the president sitting in GM and Chrysler vehicles and listen to him tell us how he is the savior of the auto industry. Truth be told, it’s the American worker that is the real hero in this story, along with a company that is rededicating itself to a free-market system.