TO THE EDITOR:
The new mission of General Motors and its board to increase profits and cash at the expense of closing North American plants and laying off workers is buttressed with a Mary Barra quote: "These actions will increase the long-term profit and cash generation potential of the company and improve resilience through the cycle." (Whatever that means.)
GM's key words today are: cash, profits and shareholders. Missing are references to vehicles with innovative technology, world-class design, quality and competitive pricing.
This follows the announcement to reduce GM's experienced, salaried work force and joins still another "head count" decision: the sale of Opel/Vauxhall. Meanwhile, the expensive move of Cadillac from Detroit to New York and back was simply senseless. Yet, there is little concern that management is shrinking the iconic creation of visionaries William Durant, Alfred Sloan and others. It takes far less talent to destroy a monument than to create one.
"Head count" formerly meant a level of employment but now implies the savings of pensions, health insurance and fixed operating expenses. Unfortunately, overlooked is loyalty and a captive audience for sales. Once with a work force of over 500,000, GM could depend upon approximately 150,000 to 250,000 new-car sales annually. Today, with an in-house work force of less than 200,000, its outside agency personnel have no family motivation to buy GM vehicles nor an interest in supplementing GM's public relations. In this regard, sadly, the finance department's ownership of the term "head count" continues to avoid mentioning its antonym effects.
RICHARD HERDEGEN, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. The writer is a retired General Motors executive.