DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors' newboss Dan Akerson sent his first letter to staff Thursday,saying he valued the role of organized labor in the company'ssuccess as GM heads into negotiations with itsunion-represented U.S. workers next year.
Akerson, 61, is the fourth CEO the automaker has had in thelast 18 months. He took over on Wednesday from Ed Whitacre, whoresigned after telling the GM board last month he did not wantto stay on the job long-term.
GM in Akerson's first year will have the difficult task ofdrumming up investor support for its planned initial publicoffering while also getting ready to renegotiate its contractwith the United Auto Workers which expires next year.
Akerson's letter was posted on internal GM websites andsent to its plants around the world. A copy of thefive-paragraph letter was obtained by Reuters.
Akerson said in the letter that he recently met with thenew president of the UAW, Bob King.
"We agreed that, while we will not always see eye-to-eye oneverything, GM will succeed to the extent that management andlabor work together," wrote Akerson. "I believe very deeply inthat."
The current four-year contract between GM and itsUAW-represented workers expires Sept. 14, 2011. GM and the UAWreached an agreement on the contract in September 2007 after atwo-day strike.
Detroit-based GM has about 53,000 UAW-represented hourlywage workers, down from 73,000 in 2007 when it last negotiateda contract. That was before GM went through bankruptcy and shedfour of its eight brands. Active GM brands remaining areChevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.
"Of course, labor's role in building up this nation andothers is well recognized and rightly so," Akerson's letter toGM's workers says. "And, coming from a union family, I know ona very personal level the good things that unions can do."
Akerson did not elaborate on his family's unionconnections.
Like his predecessor Whitacre, Akerson is a formertelecommunications executive with no heavy manufacturingexecutive experience. He was appointed to the GM board by theU.S. Treasury in July 2009.
GM has about 208,000 employees worldwide, including salariedand hourly wage workers. (Reporting by Bernie Woodall, editing by Matthew Lewis)