UAW officials believe a third shift — and about 750 new jobs — are coming to General Motors‘ Flint Truck Assembly Plant by the close of this year, a potentially huge shot in the arm for Genesee County’s economy.
Quoted – UAW officials expect third shift, hundreds of new jobs to be added at General Motors’ Flint Truck Assembly Plant – Flint Journal
January 24, 2010 by 64 Comments
“I believe we’re going to get a third shift,” said UAW Region 1-C Director Duane Zuckschwerdt, who said the additional workers could be on the job as early as spring.
Zuckschwerdt is the highest-ranking UAW official based in Flint and isn’t alone in his opinion. Detroit-based UAW International Vice President Cal Rapson and Dana Rouse, shop chairman at UAW Local 598, which represents hourly truck plant workers, have also told The Flint Journal that they expect to the job boost at some point in 2010.
GM spokesman Tom Wickham said it is premature to talk about the need for an additional shift but there are reasons to believe union leaders have strong grounds for their optimism. Among them:
• An important new product: Test assembly of GM’s light-duty crew cab pickup could start here by April with full production about July 1, Rouse said. Last year, the plant lost its medium-duty commercial truck business when GM stopped making its GMC TopKick and Chevrolet Kodiak trucks but continued to build Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks here. It remains GM’s sole producer of heavy-duty crew cab trucks
• New investment: The company announced in September that it was investing $21 million in the plant to allow it to produce the light-duty trucks that have been built in Mexico. Wickham confirmed Friday that GM has quietly invested another $6.5 million in Flint Truck since then, allowing it to move a motor line and free up more room for production.
• Lower labor costs: Auto analyst Erich Merkle of autoconomy.com said GM is finding out that building vehicles in the U.S. makes sense in its post-bankruptcy life. New concessions from the UAW, including relaxed work rules and lower wages, “make the U.S. look much more appealing” than it did just a year ago.
• A visit from the big guy: It’s never a bad sign when the company chief executive officer shows up for a friendly visit, which is what happened when CEO Ed Whitacre spent several hours inside Flint Truck in December, his first visit to a GM plant since becoming CEO.
• A more optimistic outlook for truck sales. Merkle said he expects an increase in truck sales in 2010 just as he expects a slight uptick in home construction. He is among those analysts who believe there is a strong correlation between the two activities.
Scott Testa, an auto industry consultant and business professor at Cabrini College in Philadelphia, said demand for trucks will rise as the economy improves.
“Manufacturers have a vested interest in protecting that (truck) turf. Historically, pickups have been very good to the U.S. auto industry,” Testa said. “Ford and GM generally do well in that category.
“There’s very good profit and the foreign makers have not made as deep an impact” as they have on cars.