Business

Despite Recalls, G.M. Pays Workers a Big Bonus

The assembly line at the General Motors Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Mo. G.M. said union workers would receive profit-sharing checks that exclude the costs of recalls. (Orlin Wagner/Associated Press)
The assembly line at the General Motors Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Mo. G.M. said union workers would receive profit-sharing checks that exclude the costs of recalls. (Orlin Wagner/Associated Press)

DETROIT (New York Times) — To cope with the gravest safety crisis in its history, General Motors has spent freely — almost $3 billion — to compensate accident victims and recall nearly 30 million vehicles.

But when the company closed the books this week on last year’s recall-plagued financial results, Mary T. Barra, its chief executive, had one more costly decision to make: Should the decade-long failure of executives, engineers and lawyers to address deadly defects in millions of cars result in a smaller annual bonus for G.M.’s blue-collar workers?

On Wednesday, G.M. chose to once again open its checkbook. For the first time since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, when it received a $49 billion bailout from taxpayers, G.M. gave its 48,000 union workers a bonus greater than their contract called for.

Each worker will receive up to a record $9,000 in profit-sharing, even though the company’s actual profits were diminished by the cost of more than 80 recalls and warranted a payment that would be about $2,400 smaller.

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