The end of 2018 brought a wild saga for GM, whose November announcement that they’d be cutting thousands of North American jobs drew the ire of the president.
The automaker joined its Big 3 competitor, Ford, in dumping white collar workers – to the tune of about 8,000 positions that were being relegated to buyout or layoff status. GM also identified five factories that were up for closure, and said that about 3,600 U.S. manufacturing jobs would be going with them.
But a few weeks after its initial announcement, GM came through with some hope for displaced workers: it actually had 2,700 jobs at other factories that it would be offering to GM workers that were willing to move to plants that were increasing their capacities.
So, the factory workers – and the UAW – are happy, right? Well… it’s not quite so simple. We learned this week that the United Auto Workers union is actually suing GM over a situation with existing transfers from the Lordstown, OH plant.
Now this plant is scheduled to close this spring, but the company already eliminated both the second and third shifts over the last two years. GM had agreed to transfer some workers to the Fort Wayne, Indiana plant, but the UAW contends that there are 1,000 laid off union workers from Lordstown who have requested transfers but haven’t gotten them because certain positions are currently being filled by temporary workers.
The UAW’s suit says GM is violating an agreement that requires the company to place “seniority employees” in these positions, giving them priority over the temps. It wants the automaker to place the laid off workers in these jobs in Fort Wayne and compensate them for the time they’ve spent twiddling their thumbs.
So, will this rocky start seep into the next round of transfers? GM believes that some of the latest workers facing layoffs will retire and some won’t want to relocate, so the company’s position is that there are “opportunities for just about everybody who wants them.”
Hopefully that’s true, because the UAW has other fish to fry: The Detroit News says the union has already challenged the company’s use of the word “unallocated”… as in it’s leaving factories “unallocated”; not idling or closing them, because that would be in violation of another agreement with the UAW that requires collective bargaining be pursued before a plant closure, in any cases outside of an “act of God.”