Steven Rattner, the former head of the United States auto task force, attempted to clarify remarks about the salary of United Auto Workers members that he made last Thursday in speaking before the Detroit Economic Club.
On Thursday, it was reported that Rattner -- dubbed President Barack Obama's Car Czar -- said he regretted not stressing more concessions from workers or creditors in the federal government's $82 billion bailout of Chrysler, General Motors and Ally Financial in 2009. However, he took a different tone late Friday, saying that he either misspoke or reporters misinterpreted his remarks.
The news accounts of my appearance yesterday before the Detroit Economic Club have centered around the suggestion that I said that United Auto Workers members should have taken a pay cut in the context of the 2009 restructuring and/or that they should take a pay cut now. Perhaps I misspoke, Rattner wrote in a blog post on his website.
Perhaps my remarks were misinterpreted. So let me be clear, I have no desire to see auto workers (or anyone else) take a pay cut. The members of President Obama's Auto Task Force did not work as hard as we did in order for workers to see their pay slashed.
As of press time, the UAW did not respond to a request for comment from the International Business Times.
Rattner took issue with what he perceived as too much attention being paid to only making concessions for UAW members. He said, looking back, he would have requested every stakeholder in the auto companies to make deeper sacrifices in order to preserve jobs and the profitability of these companies for the future.
The reason for that comment was that as I have watched events unfold in the past 2 ½ years, I have become increasingly concerned about the competitiveness of American manufacturing, including autos, Rattner said. We are competing more and more against countries whose workers are paid a small fraction of what American workers are paid but whose productivity is getting closer and closer to U.S. levels (in some cases, even exceeding it.)
All I was trying to say was that if we had achieved more shared sacrifice at the time of the restructurings, we would be in a better position to retain more American jobs in the face of this competition. I wish sacrifice was not necessary.
After his speech to the Detroit Economic Club, Rattner told reporters that in hindsight, he wished the auto task force had stressed more concessions from workers or creditors.
If we had more time, we might have asked all the stakeholders to sacrifice a little bit more, Rattner told reporters. We didn't ask any active worker to cut his or her pay. We didn't ask them to sacrifice any of their pension and we maybe could have asked them to do a little bit more.
In his speech, Rattner also called the bailout an unambiguous success, despite saying that taxpayers would likely lose about $14 billion on their investment.