FLINT — Some General Motors truck buyers want a made-in-the- United States product. Some GM workers would like the option of not working on Saturdays. And no doubt, many area residents would jump at the chance to work for GM, even on a part-time basis.
Reportedly, a plan is being set into motion that could be a win-win for all concerned.
GM officials are neither confirming nor commenting on news that light-duty pick up production is being moved to Flint Assembly from operations in Silao, Mexico.
“The plant will release a Saturday schedule for 2017 that goes beyond Plan A,’’ according to a May 20 letter to the UAW Local 598 membership from Eric Welter, UAW Local 598 chairman and Ray Gorney, 598 president.
The letter goes on to say that the change is being made to meet customer demand and to stem the risk of losing market share to competitors because of GM truck shortages.
“Pulling this work out of Mexico satisfies our customers that want vehicles built in the United States and allows Silao, which is located on a shipping port, to increase volume of other models that are easily exported around the world,” the letter stated.
Increased production will mean more overtime pay for workers who want it but a plan also is being developed to allow more Saturdays off and ability to accommodate requests for vacations and popular time-off requests such as deer hunting season and spring break.
“We will be developing a system that will allow you to request and be granted Saturdays off. We are still working out a fair plan that balances work and people’s lives,” the letters stated.
Reportedly, this change will be accommodated by hiring and training more “temps.” A notice posted May 27 on the Local 598 Facebook page directs those interested in applying for “production team member” temp jobs to visit the GM job application website at www.appone.com/ MainInfoReq.asp?R_ ID=1220108&B_ ID=83&fid=12&Adid&sst=newfullnavy although the form also states that “this position is currently not accepting applications.”
But it is early days yet. The UAW letter said that current workers will be canvassed “later this year” about work preferences for Saturdays.
“This is not a commitment by you, that this is merely a way to get a more accurate idea of the number of people we will need to cover by department and shift,” the letter said
To smooth the transition, Flint Assembly officials have had discussions with assembly plants in Arlington, Texas and Wentzville, Missouri, which currently run the coming schedule. Arlington needed few temps because most of its workers like Saturday overtime work. But Wentzville got off to a rough start because it hired too few part-time workers, had training issues and unhappy employees.
Local leaders asked members to return the canvas form and also for patience during the transition. Ultimately, they expect that a more flexible work schedule will result in an improved work environment.
“For those members who like to work, they will work as many Saturdays as they want, earning an extra $12K to $15K next year,” according to the letter. Those who only want to work some Saturdays will have more control over time off and those who don’t like working Saturdays at all will work no more than hours scheduled under the current Plan A but will likely work less.
“The use of part time temps will allow us to grant more vacation on Monday and Friday and increase approvals for times like deer season and spring break,’’ the letter stated.
Officials are currently working to develop a ‘fair process” for approving Saturdays off to accommodate as many workers as possible.
Flint Assembly, located at 3100 Vanslyke Road, currently employs 2,573 hourly workers and 247 salaried workers.
The plant opened in 1947. Recent improvements include: $7.5 million (2014) – Upgrade to update compressed air system and convert from steam heat to natural gas. $600 million (2013) – Facility upgrades, including construction of a new paint shop.