The Truth About Cars » Stephen Girsky The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 02 Jul 2014 22:32:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Stephen Girsky Will The UAW Accept Performance Pay? Mon, 13 Jun 2011 22:13:18 +0000

It’s not difficult to understand why the UAW has never contemplated agreeing to a wage rate tied to the profitability of its employer firms: simply put, it’s been a long time since big profits were the norm among the union-represented Detroit automakers. But now that Motown is back in the black and handing out record profit-sharing checks, it looks like the UAW could finally tie its own fate to that of the automakers… on certain conditions. UAW boss Bob King tells The WSJ [sub]

It would be an advantage if you can guarantee to the [Detroit] companies certain things on fixed costs so that they would remain competitive. When you’re successful, that’s good. But if you’re sharing more of the risk, you need to have more of the upside

In short, tying the union’s wage to the automakers’ financial performance is only an option if there’s something in it for the UAW. And end to two-tier? More US production? Board seats for the union? Who knows, possibly even a pay increase. With GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky saying things like

there is a big pay-for-performance element going through the company and there is going to be more of it,

one has to assume GM might be willing to play “let’s make a deal” with the union. Girsky’s been on the labor and management side of the equation.. in fact, at the moment he is (apparently) on both sides, as both a Vice Chairman of GM and the UAW VEBA fund’s representative on the Board of Directors. With that kind of connection between labor and management, and with much of the “risk” around Detroit’s performance having been removed by the government bailout, a UAW performance pay deal seems more likely than you might think. Whether it’s a good idea is another, far more complex question that I’ll leave to the comments section.

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GM Names UAW VEBA Director Girsky Vice Chairman Tue, 23 Feb 2010 15:12:48 +0000

Automotive News [sub] reports that the one-time advisor to Rick Wagoner and GM’s director in charge of the UAW’s VEBA account’s 17.5 percent stake in the automaker has been promoted to Vice Chairman in charge of corporate strategy and business development. He will be replacing John Smith, a 59 year-old GM “lifer” (he joined the company in 1968) who led negotiations for GM’s Saab-Spyker and Opel-Magna deals. Smith will stay on until the end of this year as an advisor to CFO Chris Liddell. That Smith would leave GM after the failed Opel sale and the less-than-entirely-satisfying Saab-Spyker deal isn’t surprising, and as a well-compensated advisor to CEO Ed Whitacre and a rising star at GM, Girsky is an equally unsurprising replacement (despite his failure to rescue Saturn). And though Girsky brings experience gained as a labor advisor and a Morgan Stanley analyst, he’s got his work cut out for him. GM’s brand sales have been largely unsuccessful so far, Opel is in an unfunded turnaround limbo, and a recent India-market alliance with SAIC was less than perfect for GM’s long-term prospects. Girsky’s got a lot going for him compared to the typical GM insider, but with mounting long-term, structural issues facing The General, there aren’t any easy options facing him in his new capacity.

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GM To Pay UAW VEBA Director $900k For Advice Fri, 15 Jan 2010 23:44:39 +0000 The $900,000 smile

A lot of what you hear about Steve Girsky sounds decidedly positive: an outspoken critic of GM, Girsky lasted less than a year as Rick Wagoner’s “roving aide-de-camp,” reportedly due to frustration with management heel-dragging. He even earned TTAC’s “lesser-of-two-evils” endorsement to be Presidential Car Czar over Steve “Chooch” Rattner. When he was appointed to be the UAW rep on GM’s board, representing the union’s VEBA trust which owns 17.5 percent of GM’s stock, he was lauded as someone who could keep his union allegiances at bay. But as special advisor to GM CEO/Chairman Ed Whitacre, Girsky had better be prioritizing GM’s best interests. Reuters reports that he’s being paid a cool $900k in stock grants for his advice. That’s in addition to $200k director’s salary and reimbursement for “living expenses and travel to and from Detroit.” Not bad considering the fuss people are making over compensation at TARP-recipient financial institutions.

So what exactly is Girsky up to? According to AN [sub]:

Nick Reilly, president of GM Europe, said Tuesday in an interview that Girsky was aiding Whitacre by keeping tabs on GM’s operations outside North America. Whitacre is focusing on North America, Reilly said.

That’s a big job, what with the Opel and Daewoo debacles bubbling away overseas, but Girsky earns his hefty pay in other ways too. The Freep reports that another component of Girsky’s job description involves keeping the boss from embarassing himself.

To ease into his job, Whitacre said former Wall Street analyst Stephen Girsky was essentially acting as his executive Sherpa, explaining “terms like residuals and throughputs. That’s all pretty mystifying to a guy who comes from the outside,” he said.

It’s usually better to over- rather than under-pay babysitters. Especially when they work for the union. Still given the less-than-stellar news coming from GM’s International ops and the collapse of the Girsky-led Saturn spin-off attempt, the auto industry’s answer to Zelig might be getting a wee bit more than he’s worth. But hey, who are we to question the dread Feinberg?

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Bailout Watch 374: Obama Admin Favors Multiple Car Czars Thu, 05 Feb 2009 19:55:38 +0000


An increasing number of media reports are indicating that instead of a single “car czar,” Obama will appoint a team to oversee the auto industry turnaround effort. Current reports indicate that Democrat fundraiser Steve Rattner will likely take the top oversight position, but his total lack of (non-political) qualifications for the job is considered an issue. Which is where Stephen Girsky comes in. “They clearly need an adviser who knows the industry,” former Chrysler president Thomas Stallkamp tells Bloomberg. “Girsky certainly knows the industry, and he was close to both GM and the union.” And though I have questioned whether Girsky’s UAW affiliations are best described in the past or present tense, this 2004 presentation (PDF) to Original Equipment Suppliers Association is decidedly prescient. Especially for 2004. And this December 2008 presentation to UAW Local 14 seems to indicate that his recent advising stint with the UAW was a mission of truth and reconciliation rather than one of conniving and obfuscation.

Of course, no matter how TTAC-ish Girsky is, if he’s answering to a wannabe media mogul who just happened to raise $100k for Obama, there’s no knowing what the result might be. Especially considering that Rattner is embroiled in a dispute with Chrysler’s and GMAC’s owner (Cerberus) over a $125m loan his private equity fund received from Cerberus to purchase Maxim Magazine. Seriously. “It’s crazy,” one surprised source familiar with the money squabble tells the NY Post. “Cerberus is about to foreclose on the loan to Quadrangle, and now Steve Rattner is going to be the boss of Cerberus.” Crazy indeed.

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