It was a case of money versus loyalty, and $9 million won. That's how Chrysler Corp. Chairman Lee A. Iacocca describes the loss of his top lieutenant, who left Chrysler in May to help a union buy United Airlines.
Gerald Greenwald's departure "was a blow," Iacocca said in an interview with Playboy magazine, to be published next week. "But nine million dollars is enough to give any reasonable or sane man pause."
Greenwald, who served as vice chairman under Iacocca, was hired by the Air Line Pilots Association to buy United. He was guaranteed a $9 million salary, win or lose.
The union's efforts to buy United crashed in October, leaving Greenwald $9 million richer and unemployed. Still, said Iacocca, the United pay amounted to "a good summer's work."
Chrysler's headquarters in Highland Park, Mich., had been rife with rumors that Iacocca was personally upset with Greenwald for leaving. Iacocca's comments in the Playboy interview affirm those reports.
"Do you fault him for leaving?" Iacocca was asked.
"Sure I fault him," Iacocca said. "Why not? He grew up with me. He'd been in the car business for 32 years, same two companies as me -- Ford and Chrysler. Isn't there anything sacred anymore? Isn't there loyalty to anything?"
Greenwald traveled to Iacocca's vacation home in Italy to tell his boss and friend that he was leaving. That personal touch did not soften the blow, though, Iacocca said.
Greenwald, who knows of the contents of the Playboy interview, declined comment on the matter in a recent interview with The Washington Post.