UAW Slams GM for Allowing Office Staff on Assembly Lines

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
uaw slams gm for allowing office staff on assembly lines

Alleged absenteeism stemming from the coronavirus outbreak encouraged General Motors to place salaried volunteers on assembly lines in Wentzville, MO. This has not gone over well with the UAW, which suggests GM’s decision to utilize non-union staff is in direct violation of its 2019 labor contract. The union claims white-collar workers have no business being on assembly lines and has issued a formal warning to the automaker.

Established in 1983 as a stamping and production facility, the site is currently responsible for General Motors’ full-size vans (e.g. Chevrolet Express) and midsize trucks (Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon). The facility has room for 4,560 employees — most of whom are hourly. Those employees are split between the the usual three shifts, with GM claiming difficulties in keeping them populated.

In July, the company said it might have to reduce the plant to just two shifts before pressure from outside convinced it otherwise. This led to the automaker seeking about 200 temporary workers and placing ads with local outlets.

Until those positions are filled, GM says it’s had to ask non-union employees to help out around the factory — some of whom are being imported from facilities in other states. GM spokesman Jim Cain informed the Detroit Free Press that the number of salaried workers on the line in Wentzville varies by week. He claimed some weeks required very few helping hands while others required over two dozen temporary line workers, especially for the unpopular third shift.

The UAW isn’t having it. “We strenuously object to GM doing this,” said Brian Rothenberg, spokesman for the auto union. “The UAW believes it’s in violation to the recent contract … Paragraph 215 of the contract forbids this.”

From Freep:

Paragraph 215 in the contract reads in part: “Supervisory employees shall not be permitted to perform work on any hourly-rated job except in the following types of situations: (1) in emergencies arising out of unforeseen circumstances which call for immediate action to avoid interruption of operations; (2) in the instruction or training of employees, including demonstrating the proper method to accomplish the task assigned.”

GM’s Cain said he has not seen the grievance. He declined to comment further saying there is a process for evaluating and adjudicating such complaints. UAW’s Rothenberg said the grievances are filed first at the local level against GM where the local union and the company try to resolve the issues. If not, they get pushed up to the UAW International to resolve it with company.

Frankly, it looks like GM qualifies for exception one in Paragraph 215 of the agreement. UAW Local 2250 actually called for General Motors to close the plant entirely last June, and most of the missing employees are gone due to the aforementioned “unforeseen circumstances which call for immediate action to avoid interruption of operations.”

Cain said the automaker intended to continue using salaried and temporary employees to pad out Wentzville’s ranks until absenteeism declines, noting that GM wouldn’t have bothered taking staff away from their duties to be retrained for assembly if it wasn’t necessary. It seems prudent, in our estimation, but don’t think that the manufacturer isn’t also trying to flex a bit on the UAW.

[Images: General Motors]

Join the conversation
4 of 47 comments
  • Jeff S Jeff S on Aug 30, 2020

    Someone will take GM over eventually whether it be the Chinese, Koreans, or Indians. The Chinese might be interested in Buick. I doubt GM will totally go out of business. The Chinese if they owned GM might decide to not make anything in the US--there is always Mexico.

    • See 1 previous
    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Aug 31, 2020

      @mcs As for a takeover of GM by a foreign company? I would like to see Tata or Mahindra grab GM. Tata has been trying to get their trucks into the US for many years, so if they takeover GM it will be the Tata Silverado. But if they do, I hope they improve the Silverado because its design over the decades has been “evolutionary”, not revolutionary like Ford, Tundra, Titan and RAM. The 2020 Silverado still is essentially unchanged from my 1988 Silverado except that the engine is smaller and the tranny has more gears. The noise in the Cab is still just as bad if you turn off the noise cancellation by disconnecting the radio.

  • DungBeetle62 DungBeetle62 on Aug 31, 2020

    Had a friend who was with Microsoft at the peak time it was cool to be with them. I was going to buy his 1994 Accord Coupe because he was moving uptown to the BMW dealership. He took me along for the afternoon of test driving various permutations of 3-Series. I could not have bene more disappointed in the M3. I'd owned a 1978 Camaro and while it did have shocks and springs when you looked beneath, I can't believe they had anything to do with the suspension or ride of that vehicle. Like the 1978 Camaro, the M3 rode as if the wheels were bolted directly to the car (though it DID corner better). Cost was no object for my friend (remember : Microsoft) but when asked for my opinion I favored the 328is with the sport package. "If I had to have that M3 as my daily driver I'd shoot myself" Although within 2 months he bought a boat. And than bought a Dodge Ram to pull it with, so maybe the M3 would've worked for him? But that Accord Coupe did not disappoint. Holy smoke that was a great car.

  • Jay Mason Your outdoor space will get better every year with a pergola. A horizontal, pole-supported framework for climbing plants is called a pergola. It creates a closed off area. pergola builder denton texas by Denton Custom Decks provide cover for outdoor gatherings. They would be more than happy to assist you with the pergola's framework.
  • Alan I would think Ford would beef up the drive line considering the torque increase, horse power isn't a factor here. I looked at a Harrop supercharger for my vehicle. Harrop offered two stages of performance. The first was a paltry 100hp to the wheels (12 000AUD)and the second was 250hp to the wheels ($20 000 (engine didn't rev harder so torque was significantly increased)). The Stage One had no drive line changes, but the Stage Two had drive line modifications. My vehicle weighs roughly the same as a full size pickup and the 400'ish hp I have is sufficient, I had little use for another 100 let alone 250hp. I couldn't see much difference in the actual supercharger setup other than a ratio change for the drive of the supercharger, so that extra $8 000 went into the drive line.
  • ToolGuy Question: F-150 FP700 ( Bronze or Black) supercharger kit is legal in 50 states, while the Mustang supercharger kit is banned in California -- why??
  • ToolGuy Last picture: Labeling the accelerator as "play" and the brake pedal as "pause" might be cute, but it feels wrong. It feels wrong because it is wrong, and it is wrong because Calculus.Sidebar: I have some in-laws who engage the accelerator and brake on a binary on/off all-in basis. So annoying as a passenger.Drive smoothly out there. 🙂
  • Johnny ringo It's an interesting vehicle, I'd like to see VW offer the two row Buzz in the states also.