The annual Code Conference is set to kick off next week, but one of our headline speakers won’t be there: GM CEO Mary Barra and her new EVP of software Mike Abbott have dropped out of the show, citing the ongoing UAW strike and contract negotiations.
“Mary and Mike unfortunately needed to change their plans to be at Code,” writes GM spokesperson Brandee Barker. “They are staying focused on the ongoing labor negotiations and supporting internal operations through the strike. They have long been supporters of Code and want to return to a future conference.”
That’s great and all, but we were very much planning to ask Barra about that strike and how negotiations are proceeding — she told CBS that things “still have a ways to go” last week. And of course, there was the very live issue of GM’s in-vehicle software choices to talk about with both Barra and Abbott: the company has famously dropped CarPlay and Android Auto in favor of its own system, which is a risky decision for any car company in a time when consumers overwhelmingly say they want smartphone mirroring.
And it’s an especially risky decision for a legacy automaker that’s trying to get substantially better at software at the same time it’s making a huge bet on EVs that promises to upend almost everything about how it makes cars. (You can see why the union wants some assurances for the future!)
We’ll have to talk about all that with Barra in the future — this contract dispute might get resolved, but the issues will remain. In the meantime, this year’s Code will still be action-packed, with appearances from AMD CEO Lisa Su, Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott, Roblox CEO Dave Baszucki, Getty CEO Craig Peters, and many more. It all starts on September 26th, and we’ll have full coverage here on The Verge.