GM Expands Use of Lower-Wage Workers at Plant Making Autonomous Vehicles

Unlike most of its rivals, GM still makes its EVs and autonomous projects in the US instead of in China. For a company that is now favoring profit over every other measure of success, that’s a big deal, but it’s also one that requires sacrifices from its employees.

GM is expanding its use of lower-wage workers in its Orion Assembly plant. The move is a move that is cause for concern, but also necessary, according to the UAW.

“Everyone agrees that this situation sucks,” Cindy Estrada, UAW VP, wrote in a letter to members in April. “But what would suck more would be to have GM shut down any of our plants.”

The UAW had already agreed to let GM employ lower-wage workers for the manufacture of autonomous vehicles in the Autonomous Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding. That deal allowed GM to pay employees making the Cruise AV autonomous vehicle less to help balance out the cost of developing the expensive technology.

Paying different employees in different positions different wages is nothing new, but with GM hiring more of the lower wage AV employees, there are fears that lower wages could become the new normal, rather than a special measure.

The UAW fears that the lower-wage workers are displacing other workers whose pay is closer to the average. Indeed, some AV workers have already replaced non-memorandum employees, though those workers have been moved to other positions, reports Automotive News.

Although tensions are high, the deals have, at least for now, managed to stave off any layoffs in Orion.

[source: Automotive News]

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