Obama's auto adviser has Wall Street, labor ties

Financial Crisis Posted on

Ron Bloom, a key adviser to President Barack Obama's new auto industry task force, brings a combination of Wall Street savvy, ties to labor unions, and a penchant for out-of-the box solutions to the government-led restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler.
Bloom, 53, a former investment banker who has worked with the United Steelworkers union since 1996, will serve as a top adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as the Obama administration attempts to revamp two corporate giants living off billions in government loans.

General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC are scheduled to submit roadmaps to viability Tuesday that show how they will repay $17.4 billion in promised government loans. The companies face a March 31 deadline to complete their plans, or else the government can pull the loans, essentially forcing bankruptcy.

Described as cerebral and blunt-talking, Bloom has been credited for taking creative approaches to managing the downsizing of the steel industry and creating a leaner operating structure. He also advised airline pilots in 1994 in the $4.9 billion employee buyout of UAL Corp., the parent company of United Airlines, and he worked with auto parts supplier Dana Holding Corp. to develop a health care trust fund.

"He's not someone who brings just a conventional, cookie-cutter approach. He's going to force people to think about new ideas," said Andy Kramer, a Washington attorney who has sat on the opposite side of the bargaining table from Bloom.

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