GM CEO testified before Congress Wednesday - New York News

GM CEO testified before Congress Wednesday

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  • Local families still waiting for GM compensation

    Local families still waiting for GM compensation

    Thursday, July 17 2014 7:19 PM EDT2014-07-17 23:19:37 GMT
    As the investigation into GM's deadly recalls continues with a compensation fund set up for families affected, questions come of who qualifies and who doesn't.
    As the investigation into GM's deadly recalls continues with a compensation fund set up for families affected, questions come of who qualifies and who doesn't.
  • GM says it's replaced 491,000 ignition switches

    GM says it's replaced 491,000 ignition switches

    Thursday, July 17 2014 2:52 PM EDT2014-07-17 18:52:11 GMT
    General Motors says it has replaced faulty ignition switches on just under 20 percent of 2.6 million small cars that are being recalled. The company has repaired just over 491,000 cars that are covered by the recall announced in February.
    General Motors says it has replaced faulty ignition switches on just under 20 percent of 2.6 million small cars that are being recalled. The company has repaired just over 491,000 cars that are covered by the recall announced in February.
  • GM's legal staff targeted at recall hearing

    GM's legal staff targeted at recall hearing

    Thursday, July 17 2014 12:20 PM EDT2014-07-17 16:20:44 GMT
    GM's Mary Barra on Wednesday morning.GM's Mary Barra on Wednesday morning.
    Lawmakers on Thursday demanded General Motors fire its chief lawyer and open its compensation plan to more potential victims as a Senate subcommittee delved deeper into deadly recalls.
    Lawmakers on Thursday demanded General Motors fire its chief lawyer and open its compensation plan to more potential victims as a Senate subcommittee delved deeper into deadly recalls.
By MARCY GORDON and TOM KRISHER
AP Business Writers

WASHINGTON (AP) -- House members questioned whether the culture at General Motors could truly change, and whether the dismissal of 15 employees was enough, as they grilled CEO Mary Barra about the actions she's taken since GM admitted that it failed to act on a deadly safety issue for more than a decade.
 
A House subcommittee heard testimony Wednesday from Barra and attorney Anton Valukas, who recently completed an internal investigation on GM's mishandled recall of 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other cars.
 
Panel members wanted to know why it took GM so long to recall the cars, which have defective ignition switches. GM blames the switches for at least 13 deaths, but Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, said she thinks there could be up to 100 deaths associated with the problem.
 
Lawmakers sought reassurances that GM will act faster in the future, and provided evidence that the Cobalt recall wasn't the only one where GM was slow to take action.
 
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., read a 2005 e-mail from a GM employee who was driving a 2006 Chevrolet Impala that stalled because the ignition switch unexpectedly slipped out of the "run" position. The employee suggested a "big recall" should be conducted and recommended that the part be made stronger. But the 2006 Impala wasn't recalled for the problem until this week.

Upton asked Barra what GM would do with such an e-mail if it was sent today. The CEO said if GM determined the stalling happened because of a problem with a car part, "then we'll take immediate action." She said this week's recall of 3.4 million large cars was an example of how the company now reacts.
 
But lawmakers said they need to know more, and were skeptical of some of the conclusions in Valukas's 315-page report, which was paid for by GM and made public on June 5. The report found that a lone engineer, Ray DeGiorgio, was able to approve the use of a switch that didn't meet company specifications, and years later, ordered a change to that switch without anyone else at GM being aware.
 
"The report does not answer all the key questions. It does not fully explain how the ignition switch was approved without meeting specifications and then redesigned in 2006," said DeGette.
 
The ignition switch in Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other cars could move out of the run position because of a heavy keychain or a bump of a knee, GM has said. That causes the engine to stall, and cuts off power-assisted steering and brakes, and also disables the air bags. Valukas found that GM engineers failed to consider stalling a safety issue.
 
Others took years to make the connection between the switches and the air bag non-deployment. Valukas said a culture that prevented information sharing and discouraged people from taking action on problems was partly to blame.
 
Lawmakers were still left to wonder about the origins of those issues.  
 
"It does not fully explain why stalling was not considered a safety issue within GM. And most troubling, the report does not fully explain how this dysfunctional company culture took root and persisted," DeGette said.
 
DeGette said senior executives, including Barra, should have acted sooner to change the company's culture.
 
She also said she has heard there is "more paranoia" within the company since Valukas's report was published because employees are worried that they will lose their jobs.
 
Barra confirmed GM has dismissed 15 people connected with the recall and has initiated a safety review that has led to a record 44 recalls of 18 million cars in the U.S. so far this year.
 
But Barra said she is also encouraging people to speak up about potential safety issues and is rewarding -- not punishing -- those who do. She said she is already getting emails from employees reporting safety concerns.
 
"I never want anyone associated with GM to forget what happened," Barra said in her prepared remarks. "This is not another business challenge. This is a tragic problem that should never have happened and must never happen again."
 
Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., questioned GM's resolve to change, noting that most of the 40 safety investigators GM has recently hired are from within GM.
 
"I would strongly suggest that you look at bringing in some outside fresh blood," he said.
 
Barra responded that the investigators are some of GM's best engineers, and that the vast majority of GM employees are as troubled by the recall investigation as she is.
 
"They want to do the right thing. They want to produce high quality and safe vehicles," she said.
 
------
 
Krisher reported from Detroit. AP Auto Writer Dee-Ann Durbin contributed from Detroit.

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  • Recalled: Fresh fruits sold at Trader Joe's, Costco & Sams Club

    Recalled: Fresh fruits sold at Trader Joe's, Costco & Sams Club

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:37 AM EDT2014-07-22 11:37:21 GMT
    A California company is recalling fresh fruits nationwide due to possible listeria contamination.
    A California company is recalling fresh fruits nationwide due to possible listeria contamination.
  • Pensioners approve Detroit bankruptcy plan

    Pensioners approve Detroit bankruptcy plan

    Monday, July 21 2014 11:39 PM EDT2014-07-22 03:39:04 GMT
    The city of Detroit says workers and retirees have approved pension cuts, a crucial step to emerging from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. The city reported results Monday after two months of balloting ended July 11. A judge still must hold a trial to determine if Detroit's overall bankruptcy plan is fair and feasible, but support from retirees is vital.
    The city of Detroit says workers and retirees have approved pension cuts, a crucial step to emerging from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. The city reported results Monday after two months of balloting ended July 11. A judge still must hold a trial to determine if Detroit's overall bankruptcy plan is fair and feasible, but support from retirees is vital.
  • DPD's 6th precinct struck by bullets in drive-by shooting

    DPD's 6th precinct struck by bullets in drive-by shooting

    Monday, July 21 2014 11:06 PM EDT2014-07-22 03:06:31 GMT
    Detroit police say bullets struck the 6th Precinct building during a drive-by shooting. This was the same precinct where four officers were shot back in 2011.
    Detroit police say bullets struck the 6th Precinct building during a drive-by shooting. This was the same precinct where four officers were shot back in 2011.
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  • Parts of Central Park vandalized

    Parts of Central Park vandalized

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:34 AM EDT2014-07-22 11:34:16 GMT
    The NYPD says several structures in Central Park were damaged by vandals over the weekend. A gazebo at Wagner Cove near park lake was pushed off its foundation. A handrail at the Bow Bridge boating landing was broken and a bench was thrown in the water nearby. Vandals also threw a rock through the window of a kiosk near West 72nd St. Among other damage, irrigation hoses were torn up at Strawberry Fields and trash cans were toppled near Central Park West.
    The NYPD says several structures in Central Park were damaged by vandals over the weekend. A gazebo at Wagner Cove near park lake was pushed off its foundation. A handrail at the Bow Bridge boating landing was broken and a bench was thrown in the water nearby. Vandals also threw a rock through the window of a kiosk near West 72nd St. Among other damage, irrigation hoses were torn up at Strawberry Fields and trash cans were toppled near Central Park West.
  • Search for masked robbers in Caesars heist

    Search for masked robbers in Caesars heist

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:25 AM EDT2014-07-22 11:25:33 GMT
    The hunt is on in southern New Jersey for two suspects who made off with more than $180K from Caesars Atlantic City casino. The brazen robbers reportedly stole the cash from two plastic boxes on the casino floor. The robbery occurred on Monday at about 6 a.m. The masked robbers took off in a vehicle. The State Police Casino Gaming Bureau is handling the investigation.
    The hunt is on in southern New Jersey for two suspects who made off with more than $180K from Caesars Atlantic City casino. The brazen robbers reportedly stole the cash from two plastic boxes on the casino floor. The robbery occurred on Monday at about 6 a.m. The masked robbers took off in a vehicle. The State Police Casino Gaming Bureau is handling the investigation.
  • Toddler safe after stroller falls onto tracks

    Toddler safe after stroller falls onto tracks

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:18 AM EDT2014-07-22 11:18:12 GMT
    Authorities say a 2-year-old girl is safe after the stroller she was in rolled off a Queens subway platform onto the tracks. Fire Department officials say it happened at the Jamaica Center-Parsons Boulevard stop in Jamaica at 11:26 a.m. Monday. Witnesses say the mother had turned away briefly to put something in the trash when the strolled fell onto the empty tracks.
    Authorities say a 2-year-old girl is safe after the stroller she was in rolled off a Queens subway platform onto the tracks. Fire Department officials say it happened at the Jamaica Center-Parsons Boulevard stop in Jamaica at 11:26 a.m. Monday. Witnesses say the mother had turned away briefly to put something in the trash when the strolled fell onto the empty tracks.
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