April 4th, 2009
04:51 PM ET
5 years ago

King: Workers on edge as they await GM's fate

Brenda Carter worked at a GM plant in Tennessee for 20 years before retiring.
Brenda Carter worked at a GM plant in Tennessee for 20 years before retiring.

On CNN's "State of the Union," host and chief national correspondent John King goes outside the Beltway to report on the issues affecting communities across the country. This week, King traveled to Tennessee to see how the problems at General Motors are affecting plant workers there.

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (CNN) - Ask newly retired autoworker Brenda Carter about President Obama and she cracks a broad, magnetic smile. "I love him," she says emphatically.

But she wishes he would worry about running the country and not take such a heavy hand in running her former employer, General Motors.

"I don't believe the government should actually run the businesses," Carter told us in an interview at her Nashville home. "We need help from them, yes. We need guidance from them. But to just come and say that a person needs to go - I don't agree with it."

The person at issue is former GM CEO Rick Wagoner, who resigned after being told by the White House that future assistance to the company depended on his stepping aside.

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Filed under: State of the Union
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. decent american

    " Ask newly retired autoworker Brenda Carter about President Obama and she cracks a broad, magnetic smile. "I love him," she says emphatically.

    But she wishes he would worry about running the country and not take such a heavy hand in running her former employer, General Motors."

    ok... what the heck is wrong with you people?????

    April 4, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  2. novi

    This is just the start of things to come..

    April 4, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  3. John

    Bankruptcy is the only answer.

    April 4, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  4. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    The ouster of a CEO is merely cosmetic. The fundamental economic disease of automakers is ultimately fatal and probably can't be cured outside of a bankruptcy, if at all. Decades of bad decisions by management and labor made them unsustainable in the long run.

    April 4, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  5. ib

    Ask me about what I think of Obama and I will also tell you. He scares me;he wants the goverment to run everything including our daily lives. Obama should have kept him mouth shut about Wagoner. I'm not saying he was doing a good job but the president should not be able to force a CEO out of a private company and that includes president Obama. We are headed down a road that everyone will regret except the people that wants the goverment to do everything and furnish everything for them. I don't want that.

    April 4, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  6. Carolyn Jones

    GM has received too much of the taxpayer funds to be "left alone" to figure what to do; all the banks and businesses received goverment funds must be regulated by the goverment, – The President and his administration needs to remain very involved. -

    April 4, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  7. Kevin

    I find it amazing that people continue to say give GM and Chrysler the money but stay out. The government for good or bad is a sizable investor. That gives the government the right to have say. If they don't want the govenment involved then replicate the action and behavior of Ford. It was obvious that GM and Chrysler were incapable of taking the necessary action to change their culture.

    April 4, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  8. Simmy

    I feel your pain Ms. Carter, but President Obama is doing what he feels is in the best interest of your former company. As for AIG, Bush had already given them 'airtight contracts.' Geithner and Dodd got into trouble trying to change the wording, but it was a done deal. Much of Bush's mess is impossible to undo. It has to taken as a bad lesson learned. It's time to move to other issues. Beating a dead horse will not make him live again.

    April 4, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  9. Tayo

    He was asked for a plan to restructure the company,what he gave wasnt satisfactory enough&he was asked to bow out .Since he doesnt understand how to rescue his business,but he want tax payers money.Go Check the details.

    April 4, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  10. john jeffers sr

    mrs or ms: don,t worry about tomorrow JESUSIS ALREADY THERE,
    just read his word and heed it all things will come out alright,,jjeff12

    April 4, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  11. Kent in CA

    Wagoner had three decades at the GM helm. In all that time, what has he really done to give us an alternative to vehicles that burn carbon? The Saturn?

    When Wagoner took over, our nation was waiting an hour in line for gasoline. Any of you guys remember that? He sold products for 30 years that do nothing but burn more of this same dwindling resource.

    Where would GM be if all the money they spent buying their competitors went to R&D on hydrogen feul cell technology? They would be the world's largest manufacturer of automobiles, and probably the world's largest exporter as well.

    Wagoner had his chance. If the profit hungry free market isn't going to fix it, then the government unfortunately has to. Believe me, I wish the people didn't have to step in and run your sad broken-down company that squandered all those profits for all those years.

    April 4, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  12. Perusing-Through

    Dear Ms. (Retired) Brenda Carter,

    Allow me to make it real simple. President Obama pleaded with Congress 'not' to throw Detroit's Auto Execs out on their bums when they flew into to D.C. with their private jets panhandling for $Billions in bailout. Instead, Congress provided Auto Execs 'stop-gap $Billions' until Execs could return with a 'realistic & viable' plan for Detroit to return to successful competitiveness. However, GM Exec Rick Wagoner returned to Congress with no 'real' plan. I ask you? What option did the President have other than to fire Wagoner for 'not' being serious about providing Congress a 'real plan'?

    April 4, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  13. off with their heads

    fire the whole lot of the execs and bring in some new talent

    the GM execs are terrible

    and NO golden parachute for them

    April 4, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  14. Franky

    Well...so-rry! LOL!!

    Who cares about the Union, what are they gonna do, huh? Last time I checked, they control their damn people, we believe that's invasion of privacy. That's every Union, they swear they can go town to town and city by city and declare Independence, there's a reason why the Mob had their eyes on them. And I don't wanna sound bogus but we have given over 2 trillion dollars of combined bailouts, that's including the TARP. And let alone people are upset about their money and where it is, one day they wanna help and another, they don't. Personally, and this is honest, I don't wanna worry about people who's actions depend on their mood or psyche, I'm a conservative, I gotta worry about other things than people's feelings...

    April 4, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  15. Grayson

    Uh-oh they must have ran out of Kool-aid by her...I'm sure they will get another shipment though.

    April 4, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  16. strong

    Let them go under and start all over again. This time, properly.

    Take notes from the savvy Japanese, if you want to be successful. You're welcome.

    April 4, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  17. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    They put a black president and a black lady over the top for a reason. Disrupt, dismantle and defeat. When it comes to business, black is white. Got it?

    April 4, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  18. Dott in Detroit

    Rick Wagoner and all the other heads of automotive companies who makes over $2mil dollars a year should be FIRED. They're parasites on their companies and now on us – we the taxpayers.

    I am !00% with Pres Obama for firing Wagoner and any other dodo-head dragging his feet. And John King it seems that every Sunday, you manage to find some one to headline "Obama is WRONG". Please balance your show.

    Wagoner had been head of GM since 2000 moving up through the ranks and had an inherent belief of entitlement. GM has been going down hill with its stock selling in 2000 for over $90-a-share. Today, stock is selling @$2 a-share. Pathetic – yet his salary rose to over $18mil a year. AND – his golden parachute was over $17mil.

    Wagoner-type's mantra has been – cut heads and send jobs overseas. Every 500-1000 heads they cut from payroll and every job they sent out of country – it seems their own pay rose $5-10mil per year. Little if any of the savings went into car design nor research and development – just copycating their foreign competiton.

    Who were going to buy their cars but those folk who works for the company. And then – only because of generous company discounts.

    Why did Henry Ford pay employees $5 a day? So they would have enough money to take care of their familiy AND buy one of his cars.

    April 4, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  19. Lori

    Well Mrs. Carter, If we left it up to the Republicans you'd be sitting at home eating bonbons for the next few years because they'd prefer GM goes bankrupt! Just be happy this government is bailing out your company and shut up!

    April 4, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  20. Zion

    Here's the thing– the bailout money is not actually a bailout. It is a promise about an investment. GM was not willing to do what it needed to go in a different direction in order to prevent future catastrophes. We as a country are so short term when it comes to issues such as the economy until we are willing to take a short term solution instead of thinking about the long term. We keep screaming about our grandchildre-well no one cared about them when the war broke–yes because we are an irresponsible nation we have left a curse for future generations. That's Bible.

    April 4, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  21. yuri

    Whatever happened to Wagoner's severance package of 20 million dollars? GM's dire straits hardly should come as a surprise and we opine that arrogance might have had a role to play in its down fall. Well, there's always chapter eleven which purportedly will set things right.

    April 4, 2009 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  22. proud army navy mom

    Anti-war and anti-capitalist protesters tangled the streets of the Alsatian city of Strasbourg and thwarted her planned visit to an anti-cancer research center with other spouses of NATO leaders.

    They were not protesting the first lady. This is in response to the previous story on the ticker about the protest.

    April 4, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  23. mh

    Hey american car makers! Here is an idea!! Make a decent product at a fair price and you would not be in the mess your in. Also – lose the unions!!!

    April 4, 2009 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  24. Bill

    The tax payers are keeping GM afloat. I do not want GM to go under I am in my 50's and I am driving a Chevy truck too. My 2007 truck drives great and GM have come along way with the quality of there cars and trucks. It is not GM fault the President Bush put this country off the clift.

    I believe whatever the government does to GM the same thing has to be done to the banks too. I am really hapy with my Chevy truck it drives great. The quality is off the charts.

    April 4, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  25. Meka

    Allowing the CEO's to go unchecked . . . Is unacceptable!

    And, President Obama told the Financial Industry that "the only thing between them and a Pitchfork-is his Administration!

    The behavior of a FEW INDIVIDUALS . . . has put America at Risk!!!

    April 4, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |