Wilson, Charles Erwin

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Wilson, Charles Erwin,

1890–1961, American industrialist and cabinet officer, b. Minerva, Ohio. He was an electrical engineer with Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company from 1909 to 1919 and designed the first automobile starters made by Westinghouse. In 1919 he joined General Motors Corp., becoming (1926) president of Delco Remy Corp., a subsidiary. Vice president of General Motors from 1929 to 1939, he became executive vice president in 1939 and president in 1941. In World War II he supervised the huge war production activity in which General Motors was engaged. He is credited with formulating the cost-of-living wage formula that General Motors first inserted in its union contract in 1948. From 1953 to 1957 he was President Eisenhower's Secretary of Defense.
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During 1953 Senate confirmation hearings into his appointment as Eisenhower's Secretary of Defense, then-GM President Charles Erwin Wilson was asked if he would find himself in a conflict of interests if confirmed.