Tuesday, 01 September 2020 22:27

GM to Make 100 Temps Permanent at Truck Plant in COVID Hotspot

Written by Jamie L. LaReau, Detroit Free Press
General Motors Wentzville Assembly employees at work Dec. 13, 2019, at the plant in Wentzville, MO. General Motors Wentzville Assembly employees at work Dec. 13, 2019, at the plant in Wentzville, MO. Melissa Vaeth for GM


General Motors is converting 100 temporary workers at its midsize truck plant in Missouri to permanent jobs as the automaker ramps up production at the facility.

The conversion comes a week after the Detroit Free Press first reported GM was using volunteer salaried employees on the line at Wentzville Assembly because of high absenteeism amid the coronavirus pandemic in that region.


The UAW strongly objected to the use of salaried workers in union jobs. It said it is a violation of a contract provision and the local union filed grievances with GM over it, the union said. On Aug. 31, the UAW confirmed 100 temporary workers at the plant, located about 40 miles west of St. Louis, will become permanent workers in a process outlined in the 2019 union contract.


Neither GM nor the UAW would say whether the move is tied to the recent grievance; however, the conversion is in process and is expected to be done by end of September.


Bridging gaps 


“The conversion at Wentzville is a direct result of our UAW members' sacrifice during last year’s 40-day strike," said UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg. "Through the path UAW members ratified in our contract, UAW member have achieved a defined path to seniority status.”


Defining a pathway to permanent employment for temporary workers was a key issue among the 48,000 UAW members that went on strike against GM last fall. The starting wage at a GM plant for a temporary worker is $15.67 an hour, but that can rise to $32.32 if they become permanent.


A GM spokesman said, beyond the conversion of temporary workers to permanent jobs, GM also is bringing in permanent workers from other plants to relocate to Wentzville. But he declined to offer specific details.


"We are on-boarding transfers per the contract," said GM spokesman Jim Cain. "And we continue to rely on salaried volunteers to help bridge gaps due to absenteeism."

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