January 15, 2020 12:00 PM, EST

GM Promotes 1,350 Temp Workers to Full-Time Status After Strike

GMA Chevrolet Volt on the assembly line at GM's Hamtramck Assembly plant. (Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

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General Motors Co. delivered on one of the key promises made in its labor contract that ended a 40-day strike in October by giving 1,350 temporary staffers full-time status.

Temporary workers were a sticking point in labor talks between the United Auto Workers union and GM last year and one of several reasons the union walked out for almost six weeks. GM had more than 3,000 temps before the strike and is now bringing many of them on board permanently in 14 plants across the U.S.

“We are excited to welcome these employees as regular, full-time team members,” Gerald Johnson, GM’s executive vice president of global manufacturing, said Jan. 15 in a statement. “Our employees are essential to meeting the needs of our customers, so providing these team members with an improved career-path forward has numerous benefits.”

The newly full-time workers will get higher pay and a better health care plan, including more favorable cost sharing and dental and vision coverage. GM will also make contributions to their 401(k) plans and give them profit sharing and life insurance benefits.

GM entered contract talks wanting to use even more temps to trim labor costs at its plants from $63 an hour, including benefits, to a level closer to $50 an hour, the approximate average costs at Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. plants in the U.S. Those factories use more temps than GM.

But the union wouldn’t hear it. The matter was a fairness issue for workers, since temps who had worked at GM plants for several years making less than $19 an hour were doing the same work as full-timers being paid $28 to $32 an hour.

In exchange for giving temps a better shake, the UAW acceded to GM’s plans to close a large and underused assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, and two small transmission plants in Maryland and Michigan.

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