Looking in All the Wrong Places

When the auto industry invades Traverse City, it truly takes ownership.

Journalists hoping to score some traditional "scrum time" with Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and UAW President Bob King after they address the MBS crowd chase the executives through a back stage curtain and into the warren of back hallways of the Grand Traverse Resort.

The swarm draws surprised looks from kitchen staff and facilities personnel, ending when Marchionne unexpectedly steps outside for a smoke. King leads the journos back to daylight before slipping into his own conference room.

It’s fair to say Marchionne and King couldn’t stand the heat, so they got out of the kitchen. And the pack of hungry journalists looking for tidbits had to wait for formal interview time with both of them.

Getting Past the Past

Bob Clark, president of RWC Consulting and former labor affairs leader at Ford, expresses skepticism that current contract negotiations between the Detroit Three and the UAW will yield a breakthrough agreement.

That’s unfortunate, he says at the conference here, because the two sides face a more unique round of bargaining than any other in the post-war era.

“Can they do it?” asks Clark, a veteran of nine national labor agreements while at Ford. “Yes, it is possible. They have the will, but can they get past their past?”

Clark thinks seven decades of adversarial attitudes could stand in their way. Certainly a new era of collaboration has emerged, he admits. “But in the middle of the night, people revert back to what they do best.”

Mirror Image

Attendees at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars may think they are seeing double when they happen upon Mike Donoughe, COO of Bright Automotive, and Ward’s editor James Amend, in town to cover MBS this week.

Both men’s photos have appeared in Ward’s stories this week, and no one can be blamed for thinking they are long-lost brothers or perhaps twins separated at birth.