GM to recall most of its hourly workers

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The General Motors logo is shown on the podium at the company's annual meeting of shareholders June 6, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. - Bill Pugliano/Getty Images North America/TNS

DETROIT — General Motors will have brought back most of its 48,000 hourly workforce in the United States starting next week.

GM will resume production at its full-sized SUV plant as well as the plant that makes its Cadillac compact SUV on Monday. GM also said it will increase production at its other North American SUV and pickup plants starting Monday.

The Detroit Three idled their North American assembly plants in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. They have been gradually restarting them beginning on May 18.

“Our comprehensive safety procedures are working well, and our suppliers have done a great job implementing their return-to-work strategies and safety playbooks,” said GM spokesman Jim Cain in a statement. “We are now in a position to increase production to meet strengthening customer demand and strong dealer demand.”

Restarting production on Monday with one shift are:

Arlington assembly in Texas; builds the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade.

Fairfax assembly plant in Kansas; builds the Cadillac XT4 small SUV and Chevrolet Malibu sedan.

The automaker will bring back a second and third shift of workers to its full-sized pickup plants in Michigan and Indiana on June 1 as well as its mid-sized pickup plant, taking all the plants from one shift to three-shift operations to jump-start pickup production.

Here are the plants going to three shifts:

Flint Assembly ; builds GM’s heavy-duty pickups

Fort Wayne Assembly; builds GM’s light-duty pickups

Wentzville Assembly; builds GM’s mid-sized pickups and full-sized vans

GM said it will also add a second shift of workers to two North American SUV plants.

Here are the plants going to two shifts:

Spring Hill, Tennessee which makes the Cadillac XT5, XT6 and GMC Acadia

CAMI in Ontario where they build the Chevrolet Equinox SUV

Five other GM U.S. assembly plants will operate one production shift.

GM had planned to add the second shift to many of its plants earlier this week, but had to delay it due to parts shortages out of Mexico.

For GM’s highly profitable pickups, the delay meant GM’s plans to nearly double pickup output at the two factories were stalled. That’s bad news for GM considering the vehicles already face lower-than-usual supply because of the 40-day UAW strike against GM last fall. The pickups are crucial to GM’s bottom line.

“We had all intentions of bringing back second shift on the 26th; however, because of the COVID pandemic in Mexico — we get some harnesses from them — they have not opened up their doors 100% yet,” said Rich LaTourneau, shop chairman for UAW Local 2209, which represents workers at GM’s Fort Wayne plant. where GM builds the light-duty Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.

At Fort Wayne, there are about 1,300 people who work on each shift, LaTourneau said. On one shift, the plant had been making about 200 pickups a day, but normally they build 440 pickups a shift, or 1,290 a day, he said.

At Flint and Wentzville plants, each shift is about 1,600 people, said Cain.

GM’s Flint and Fort Wayne factories accounted for about 62% of GM’s output of large pickups last year, according data from researcher Ward’s Intelligence.

“It’ll be the majority of our U.S. hourly workforce back on the job,” Cain said.

He added that the restart of vehicle production at GM’s North American component and assembly plants has gone smoothly without any production disruptions due to coronavirus.

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