GM CEO Says No More Safety Issues Lurking
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DETROIT (AP) - A thorough review of General Motors’ safety issues is nearing completion and hasn’t turned up any more serious problems, the company’s CEO said Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters before the company’s annual meeting, Mary Barra also said that personnel changes related to a deadly ignition switch problem are finished. The company forced out 15 workers last week after an outside attorney blamed them for failing to act on the problem. Five others were disciplined.
Barra further said that there will be some minor adjustments to GM’s structure after the investigation by former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas. He was hired by the company to find out why it took more than 10 years for GM to recall 2.6 million small cars with the faulty switches. They have been blamed for more than 50 crashes and at least 13 deaths.
GM began reviewing past safety issues after the ignition switch problem became public, resulting in a total of 15.8 million recalled vehicles in North America. Barra says the review has been extensive, but said the ignition switch issue was a “unique series of mistakes” made by the company over many years.
“I have nothing to conclude that there’s anything like this,” she said of the ignition switch recall. “We’ve been digging pretty deep.”
Barra said there likely will be a few more recalls, but those related to the review should be announced by the end of June.
She said moves made by the company already are changing its culture, which Valukas blamed for helping to hide the ignition switch problem. Employees, she said, are responding to the changes. Two have alerted her to safety issues, but she did not elaborate on them.
She said GM may “tweak the structure here or there” but she doesn’t expect major changes.
Board Chairman Tim Solso gave Barra a vote of confidence, saying the board is pleased with her work and that she and her team “will lead General Motors to make the necessary changes.”
Outside GM’s downtown Detroit headquarters, about eight protesters stood outside GM’s headquarters ahead of the meeting. Ken Rimer, who lost his step-daughter in a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt accident in Wisconsin, and Laura Christian, who lost her birth daughter in a 2005 Cobalt crash in Maryland, said they didn’t intend to meet with shareholders, but wanted their message to be seen and heard.
“I believe the shareholders need to know that they may be the key to helping hold GM to a safety standard rather than a profit culture. If they can see the human side of this, I think it will help all of us,” Christian said.
Breaking into tears, Christian said she was trying not to look at GM’s imposing skyscraper.
“I can’t stand this place. To me, it’s a physical representation of putting profits before our kids,” she said.
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