In Need of More Workers at Truck Plants, GM Looks to Recently Laid Off Workers

Despite the pandemic, truck sales have been strong. That’s good news for GM, but it poses a problem. Producing enough vehicles to keep up with demand is proving difficult and causing GM to call on recently laid-off workers to fill gaps left by the novel coronavirus.

GM’s truck plants, like Flint and Fort Wayne, are back operating at full capacity to churn out Silverados and Sierras. But with COVID-19 spikes around the nation, it’s hard to keep the shifts fully staffed.

Indiana has had more than 54,000 confirmed cases of the virus and Allen Country, home to Fort Wayne, is the fourth most affected county in the state.

It’s not hard to see why as many as 200 of Fort Wayne Assembly’s 4,100 workers are off for COVID-19-related reasons. In all, the Detroit Free Press reports that as many as 1,000 workers are off.

That makes the plant’s goal of 1,290 pickups a day difficult to achieve.

“They’re at full schedule, but they have every single person on that assembly line, including management, and management is not supposed to be on the line,” a source familiar with the matter, but not authorized to speak to the media, told The Detroit Free Press. “It’s all hands on deck, just to build trucks.”

To try to alleviate the pressure on the local workforce, GM is reportedly looking to bring recently laid-off employees in. The workers may come from plants like Spring Hill, Tennessee, whose third shift was recently shut down as a result of low XT5, XT6, and Acadia sales.

The UAW has a deal in which recently laid-off workers that it represents effectively have first dibs on new jobs that open up within 50 miles of them. Getting as many of these workers into its truck plants may become a priority for GM.

“We do need some help,” Eric Welter, UAW 598 shop chairman, told the Free Press. “We’re getting 100 people. They’re laid off anyways and they need the work. They’re coming from Detroit-Hamtramck, Spring Hill, Pontiac, and Milford.”

With signs indicating that the coronavirus situation will only get worse in the US, the situation will continue to be tricky for GM.

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