GM and Delphi Ditching UAW For New "Green" Production Jobs

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

As GM tools up for production of its Volt extended-range electric car, Automotive News [sub] has noticed something interesting: workers at GM’s new battery pack assembly plant are not represented by the United Auto Workers. Located in the heart of UAW territory (Brownstown Township, MI), the Volt battery plant represents the very jobs that local politicians and GM leadership hailed as the green future of the auto industry. When the plant opened, GM Chairman/CEO Ed Whitacre waxed eloquent about the opportunities:

The development of electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt is creating entire new sectors in the auto industry – an “ecosystem” of battery developers and recyclers, builders of home and commercial charging stations, electric motor suppliers and much more. These companies and universities are creating new jobs in Michigan and across the U.S. – green jobs – and they’re doing it by developing new technology, establishing new manufacturing capability, and strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness.

As long as they do so without UAW representation, apparently. Needless to say, if GM can get away with using non-union workers at a crucial plant that’s supposed to represent the firm’s future, things aren’t looking so good for our friends in organized labor.

And though GM only has 25 workers currently working the Brownstown plant, that number will increase, and the symbolism is far more important than pure numbers. The plant is part of a new wholly-owned subsidiary called GM Subsystems Manufacturing LLC, and GM spokesfolks confirm that non-union labor was an important factor in maintaining competitive manufacturing costs.

Though electric motor production at Maryland’s White Marsh plant will be a union shop, GM’s biggest supplier Delphi is also taking measures to keep its EV component factory in Kokomo, IN, free from union representation (in line with its new union-free mantra). Kokomo Local 292’s president calls the decision a “smack in the face” for the union, which is facing a decades-long slide in membership. The former DuPont plant will supply electric drives to Allison Transmission for use in medium-duty trucks and buses, and will eventually see its non-union workforce grow to 190.

Meanwhile, five Delphi plants that were transferred to GM during the supplier’s bankruptcy are being pressured to break their master agreements so they can compete amongst each other for work. In fairness though, UAW leadership doesn’t seem to be doing much to improve the situation for workers.

Join the conversation
2 of 19 comments
  • Aqua225 Aqua225 on Feb 09, 2010

    I think that the UAW will horn in on it, if GM is successful. If GM can pay their loans, and ditch majority union ownership, I will line back up for my Vetts, Camaros, and Silverados. Till then, the Blue Oval Boys and their 32V 5.0L Mustang is looking good.

  • Moedaman Moedaman on Feb 10, 2010

    I found it odd that GM didn't try to do things without the UAW long ago. The joint venture with Toyota could have been a non-union plant. Toyota didn't have any agreements with the UAW and GM could have said that it was really a Toyota plant. I don't know how successful it would have been in California, but they never really tried. With Saturn, they built a new plant in a "right to work" state, yet bring the UAW on board. It was a whole new company that wasn't bound to any previous contracts. GM could have tried it. My dad was a UAW member working for GM at the time and GM's relationship with the UAW at that time couldn't have gotten any worse over that.

  • Lou_BC Stellantis sales are down even with Ram and Jeep? That's more typical of a constrained economy. Those products tend to be more expensive to purchase and fuel. Mind you, Ford and GM are heavily reliant upon trucks and SUV's but are doing okay. Time to break out the solar powered popcorn maker ;)
  • SCE to AUX Due to the terrible economy, I thought Americans were huddled in their leaking shack homes, eating moldy bread and cold tomato soup. /sBut somehow, millions are still spending an average of $48k per vehicle, and $53k for EVs: income of a new car buyer range is $44k - $54k, so basically equal to the price of the cars they are buying: last figure boggles my mind. I recall reading here (years ago) that people prioritize their car payments over their house payments.Just as Americans are willing to pay anything for a gallon of gas, I'm convinced they'll also pay anything to get a new car.
  • MaintenanceCosts Why? What is appealing enough about this car to put up with the reality of owning a 50-year-old Italian car? I get that different things appeal to different people but I can't see why this particular one would be appealing at all, even to someone else.(Meanwhile, in "reality of owning an old car" news, my '95 Acura Legend has developed a persistent misfire that I suspect is at least one and maybe two failed coils. Amazon just sent me new OEM spark plugs and a set of coils, non-OEM and of questionable quality, because new OEM ones are NLA. Now I have to find a bit of time to go install them.But when I'm finished, I'll again have one of the most appealing sedans Japan ever built, rather than an ugly rust bucket.)
  • Kwik_Shift Overpriced used cars and high interest rates not so good. That will eventually tank for many of these chain dealer lots with millions invested to sell at a loss.
  • Tassos Why has anybody found a 50 year old POS with a long list of problems, whose owner, with a straight face, asks.. $8,000 US dollars (even worthless 2023 devalued Idiot Joe Briben Dollars), worth looking up, may also explain necrophilia.