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Hughes Workers Happy With GM as New Boss

June 7, 1985

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) _ Employees at high-technology Hughes Aircraft Co. generally are pleased that giant General Motors Corp., the nation’s No. 1 automaker, will be taking over their company.

″There was a lot of uncertainty, some talk about the possibility that we’d be split up,″ said Sandy Shapiro, 50, who designs complex antenna for Hughes’ communications satellites.

″Older people like myself welcome the stability of a major company,″ he added.

Earlier this week, GM announced that it had agreed to pay $5 billion in cash and stock to buy Hughes from the non-profit Howard Hughes Medical Insitute. The Bethesda, Md.-based institute has been sole owner of the company since 1953.

Shapiro said it appears GM doesn’t plan any major restructuring that would strip El Segundo-based Hughes of its identity.

There had been some question of how well Hughes, the nation’s leading defense electronics contractor and one of the world’s biggest satellite builders, would mesh with GM, which has a reputation as a metal-bending automaker.

But Hughes workers didn’t seem bothered by the prospect.

″I’m delighted,″ said Boris Subbotin, supervisor of a team of engineers working on advanced laser design. ″They (GM) were my favorites.″

Subbotin said the combined resources of the companies should strengthen and improve Hughes.

None of a cross-section of Hughes workers interviewed expressed concerns about losing their lucrative fringe benefits under the new management. Many indicated they felt GM’s benefit package was comparable to what they now receive.

GH officials in Detroit have indicated they foresee no changes in the pay and benefit packages for Hughes’ 73,000 employees, about one-third of whom are scientists and engineers and about 18 percent of whom are unionized.

At the Hughes research laboratory in Malibu, one business services employee who asked not to be identified was a bit more cautious, saying, ″I don’t know if it’s going to improve things ... but it certainly will broaden our horizons.″

Some employees already have decided, in jest, on the first project for the merged companies.

″We’re going to send a Chevy into space,″ said one worker, who asked not to be identified.

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