DETROIT -- Steve Miller's renowned skill for listening and immersing himself in the financial details of a company will be put to the test at Delphi Corp.
Miller, 63, was named chairman and CEO last week of the giant auto supplier. He replaces retiring Delphi chief J.T. Battenberg III, 62, who will stay through July as a consultant.
Miller, a former Lee Iacocca associate at Chrysler Corp. and later turnaround specialist, is liable to get an earful from hourly workers at Delphi.
In an interview last week, Miller said Delphi's union-labor costs are too high, at about $60 an hour including benefits. He said a first order of business would be to discuss changes with the UAW.
Delphi has 24,695 UAW workers in a North American salaried and hourly work force of 49,200.
"We have serious financial issues," Miller says. "In North America we have high labor costs that are uncompetitive on a global scale."
"That has been exacerbated because our top customer, General Motors, has declining market share. We have to deal with it."
Miller comes to Delphi, the world's second largest auto supplier, after turnaround stints with Federal-Mogul Corp., Bethlehem Steel Co., Aetna Inc. and Waste Management Inc. He helped engineer the 1980 bailout of Chrysler.
Miller leaves Federal-Mogul as nonexecutive chairman with the auto supplier still in Chapter 11. He retired as Federal-Mogul's CEO this year after helping steer the company after it entered Chapter 11 in 2001 because of asbestos lawsuits.
"At Federal-Mogul, yes they're still in bankruptcy but very near the end of the case. The auto parts company is growing," says Miller, who lives in central Oregon and has a passion for model trains. He reportedly is renting an apartment in suburban Detroit.