General Motors is likely to reopen plants in Spring Hill, Tenn., and Janesville, Wis., according to UAW Vice President Joe Ashton. He said that to boost the likelihood of plants being reopened, the union will be agreeable to using entry-wage workers.
At a briefing at GM’s Orion assembly plant in Orion Township, Mich., Ashton said that the union will consider any option that will retain jobs.
The UAW will start negotiations this summer on a new, four-year labor agreement with GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group.
The current contracts are set to expire this September. In the later part of 2011, GM’s production in Orion of two small cars under a two-tier wage structure will start. This enables GM to operate the plant with 40 percent of its workers at an entry wage of about $14 per hour – roughly half of what veteran assembly line workers earn.
This deal, which came about due to GM’s 2009 bankruptcy, raised controversy among rank-and-filed workers.
This deal allows GM to make a profit on these vehicles, meaning that GM could be the only carmaker to build subcompact cars in the United States. Orion will have about 1,550 workers this summer when production of the Chevrolet Sonic starts. Production of the new Buick Verano subcompact will follow shortly.