Tester to CEO: Time for ‘GM to follow its own advice’
After touring Stillwater Mine, Senator invites top GM executive to follow suit
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester says it’s time for General Motors to follow its own advice.
The company last week suggested Tester go out and meet some of the men and women in Montana “who are reinventing GM.”
On Saturday Tester visited the Stillwater Mine, a longtime GM supplier of palladium. And Tester he asked the automaker’s top executive to follow suit.
“Fritz, I took you up on your suggestion,” Tester wrote to CEO Fritz Henderson. “In fact, I did it 36 years ago when I bought my first GM car. Now I ask you to follow your own advice and meet some of the hardworking folks who are part of the foundation of America’s workforce.”
Last month, a bankruptcy judge in New York City upheld GM’s decision to cancel its contract to buy palladium from Stillwater Mine—America’s only producer of palladium.
The company instead plans to purchase its palladium from South Africa and Russia, even after accepting a $50 billion bailout from American taxpayers. Palladium is a precious metal used to make catalytic converters, which filter pollution from cars and trucks.
After GM’s decision, Tester and Senator Max Baucus immediately demanded the company reconsider sending jobs overseas.
Last week a corporate GM executive invited Tester to “visit a GM facility” in Montana, adding, “we are proud of our people and we think they tell our story best.”
“I feel the same way about the men and women of Stillwater Mine,” Tester shot back. “I invite you to join me there at your earliest convenience… You can hear about the impact GM’s recent actions will have upon the economic wellbeing of hundreds of families, numerous small communities and dozens of interconnected Montana-based businesses.”
Tester last year voted against a multi-billion dollar bailout of General Motors and other automakers in part because he wasn’t convinced the companies would use the money to create American jobs and invest in its American suppliers.
“Unfortunately, I was right,” Tester said.
Tester is encouraging all Montanans concerned by GM’s decision to weigh in online at tester.senate.gov/stillwater. He plans to deliver the comments he receives to GM and to the newly created White House Auto Task Force.
A brief video of Tester’s Stillwater Mine tour is available online HERE.
Tester’s letter to GM CEO Fritz Henderson appears below.
Mr. Frederick (Fritz) A. Henderson
President and Chief Executive Officer
General Motors Corp.
P.O. Box 33170
Detroit, MI 48232-5170
Dear Mr. Henderson:
On July 31, Ken Cole, General Motors’ Vice President of Global Public Policy and Government Relations, suggested I visit a GM facility in my state and to meet some of the men and women who are “reinventing GM.”
While GM does not have a large manufacturing presence in the state of Montana, it has a long relationship with Stillwater Mining Company, the only palladium/platinum producer in the United States. And as you are well aware, after accepting billions of taxpayer bailout dollars, GM nullified its Palladium and Rhodium Supply Agreement with Stillwater Mining Company, choosing instead to support jobs in Russia and South Africa over a company that employs more than 1,300 hard-working Americans.
I took Mr. Cole up on his suggestion and on Saturday, August 1, I went to Nye, Montana, to visit Stillwater Mine. I traveled more than three miles underground to visit the with the hard-working men and women who mine 350,000 ounces of platinum and palladium every year. The hundreds of miners who work in Nye are committed to hard work, safety and attention to detail as they produce the precious metals that have long gone into GM’s catalytic converters.
Fritz, I took you up on your suggestion. In fact, I did it 36 years ago when I bought my first GM car. Now I ask you to follow your own advice and meet some of the hardworking folks who are part of the foundation of America’s workforce.
I invite you to travel to south central Montana to see firsthand the only domestic palladium/platinum producer and to visit with the employees of the supplier you pushed aside under the cloak of the bankruptcy court. I will join you in Nye, one of the few places in the world where platinum and palladium is known to exist—in a narrow seam of rich ore buried deep in the granite of Montana’s Beartooth Mountains.
You can hear about the impact GM’s recent actions will have upon the economic wellbeing of hundreds of families, numerous small communities and dozens of interconnected Montana-based businesses.
Hopefully, after meeting with miners and visiting south central Montana, you will reconsider the decision to utilize foreign suppliers of palladium—including those that supply palladium through recycled catalytic converters. I understand that although used palladium is collected in Pennsylvania, it is shipped overseas for processing.
As Mr. Cole said to me in his invitation, “We’re proud of our people and we think they tell our story the best. Please be assured you’ll find an enthusiastic welcome if you visit.”
I feel the same way about the men and women of Stillwater Mine, and I invite you to join me there at your earliest convenience.
I look forward to hearing from you and to meeting you in Nye to tour the world’s finest palladium/platinum producer.
Thanks for your consideration.