American Morning

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November 19th, 2010
06:06 PM ET

Extended interview with surfer Kelly Slater

CNN's Jason Carroll sat down with 10-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater for a story on American Morning. Here's the full interview.

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Filed under: American Morning • Sports
November 19th, 2010
08:59 AM ET

Solving world problems during a 45-minute commute

American Morning's Jim Acosta profiles a group of men on their commute to work. Here's what they had to say about solving the biggest problems facing our country:

Filed under: AM Original
November 19th, 2010
07:46 AM ET

Royal historian dishes royal wedding details

Hugo Vickers, royal historian and author, gives an inside look into the preparations for the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Filed under: American Morning
November 19th, 2010
07:32 AM ET

Kelly Slater: The best athlete you've probably never heard of

In the world of sports icons, there's Ali, Navratilova, Jordan. But do you know...Slater?

CNN's Jason Carroll sits down with Kelly Slater, 10 time world champion surfer, who is at the top of his game at 38 years old.

Filed under: American Morning • Sports
November 19th, 2010
07:30 AM ET

Forever stoked: What it's like to interview Kelly Slater

By Stephen Samaniego, CNN Producer

Kelly Slater is just another surfer. Sure, he has surfed the best waves this planet has to offer while being paid lots of money to do so, and in the process he’s become the best surfer this world has ever known. "

But...he's still just a guy who loves to surf.

I arrived to Mollusk surf shop the morning of the shoot and started to set up without really knowing what kind of Kelly Slater was going to show up.

Slater had spent the entire night flying from Puerto Rico and landing in beautiful Newark, New Jersey at 6:00am. I'm not sure if you're familiar with either Puerto Rico or Newark, New Jersey but I can promise you that no matter who you are, the chances of you being in a good mood after a journey like that on a red-eye are slim.

With this in mind, we worked hard to make sure that when Slater arrived, we would be ready to go so that he could be in and out quickly if he wanted to. The shop’s owner, Chris Gentile, had already given marching orders to his employees to make coffee and bagel runs so that Slater would be well taken care of.

We had scheduled the interview for 10:00am. When Slater's people contacted me at 9:00am to say they were on their way, things went into overdrive. We had an hour with the star surfer and we wanted to make the most of it.

A white van with tinted windows pulled up and out came Slater. Dressed in jeans with layers of clothing and a hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head, he looked like a guy who had just flown overnight and had 15 minutes to freshen up in a hotel room. He walked up the stairs and into the shop, stopping to greet everyone he came across.

Once he stepped into the shop though, Slater’s eyes lit up. His formality disappeared and he bolted straight for the wall lined with boards. He grabbed board after board, pulling each off the rack to hold it in his hands, feeling its body and imagining how it would ride. You could feel the intensity this man has for riding waves. He pulled almost every single board in the rack with the enthusiasm of a grom (an excited newbie surfer).

We started the interview, and Slater talked about his passion for wave riding. It was a point he couldn't make enough. He LOVES to ride waves and be in the ocean. It’s an unexplainable connection that only people who do it can feel and can't fully explain. As the interview progressed it was the one thing that he kept coming back to. The more he talked about it, the more I began to see him not as 10-time world champion Kelly Slater but as another surfer. As someone who was born in Guam and grew up by the ocean, I connected with Slater’s special bond with the surf.

And that feeling you get after an amazing session or dropping into the biggest wave of the day? That surging energy? That stoke? Slater still feels it. He's practically dripping in it

Kelly ended up hanging out with us for more than two hours at the shop. His passion for all things surfing is beyond words. Kelly Slater, the guy who's surfed all the best waves and should be the most jaded one among us, is the most stoked.

Filed under: Sports
November 19th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Gut check: Do GM profits = pay raises?

By Carol Costello and Ronni Berke

The scene would have been inconceivable just a few years ago: management and union standing together at the New York Stock Exchange as the new General Motors went public.

It was a truly new day, not only for GM, but for – don't laugh – bipartisanship.

“We understand that to be globally competitive, we have to work together," says United Auto Workers president Bob King. "There's so much division and partisanship in America. Here's labor and business and government all working together to keep jobs in America."

To accomplish that, thousands of UAW workers retired early. Wages for senior workers are frozen at about $28 an hour, while new hires now make 50 percent less – $14 an hour, or about $30,000 a year. Fat pension plans are gone for new employees; they now contribute to 401k's.

The painful cuts have led some union workers to feel betrayed by union leaders. Still, the UAW accepted the changes and GM’s CEO credited them and increased worker creativity for his company's resurgence.

"It's inspiring how good the company has come out of this, and it's largely because of the employee base," says GM CEO Dan Akerson.

General Motors is projected to make $5-6 billion in profits this year. If GM continues to prosper, should employees prosper too?

It's a valid question. Negotiations on a new union contract starts next year. "We're paying competitive rates vis-a-vis our competition," Akerson adds. "A success-based pay structure is what we strive for, like you do in most businesses."

For the union, that sounds promising. Its goal is to share in the company's "upside" while helping the auto industry remain viable. "It's a different world we're in," says King. "Top management at General Motors recognizes you've got to work together everyday and when there's an upside, workers have to share in that upside. We will."

Yet many economists say even if your company is healthy, it's unlikely you will get any substantial raise as long as the unemployment rate remains high. There's no incentive for companies when a hundred people are standing in line for your job. However, even in better economic times, wages in recent decades have been stagnant. Commerce Department statistics, adjusted for inflation, show that from 1990-2008, middle class incomes rose just 20 percent.

And most of that happened in the first decade. After 2000, when many businesses were fat and happy, income stagnated. Shareholders profited, but middle class workers did not. The current economic downturn has hit wages hard. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hourly wages increased only 1.7 percent over the past year, but because companies did hire workers for more hours, weekly pay was up. Increases were even lower in manufacturing.

Gut Check: If GM profits, should workers share the wealth?

Filed under: American Morning • Economy • General Motors