General Motors has decided to slow down production at the Spring Hill Manufacturing facility, possibly triggering some layoffs in the 4,100-member work force.
GM operates 24 hours in Spring Hill, with three shifts producing the Cadillac XT5 and GMC Acadia in three, eight-hour shifts. As recently as this year, many employees were working seven-day, 12-hour schedules.
“We don’t know what the impact is going to be,” United Auto Workers 1853 Chairman Mike Herron said. “We have been told we will be having a line reduction, meaning we will have fewer cars coming through the assembly line than usual.”
That could mean the loss of some jobs, but Herron said the union is working to mitigate layoffs and keep the number to zero, if possible.
“That’s the extraordinary thing about this business,” Herron said Sunday. “One minute, you’re working seven days a week, up to 12 hours a day, with all hands on deck. The next minute, it’s back to five days and 40 hours.”
A slowdown in auto sales nationwide has forced GM to recalculate the number of vehicles it needs to produce.
Because of falling demand for smaller cars, GM eliminated the third shift at its Lansing, Mich., Grand River and Lordstown, Ohio, plants in January — the company’s first announced work-force reduction since 2010. It also dropped the third shift at the Detroit Hamtramck plant in March.
In March, GM said it would cut the third shift at Lansing Delta Township assembly plant, effective Friday of this week. The cuts come after the GMC Acadia production moved from Lansing Delta Township to Spring Hill. The company decided to stop making the old-generation GMC Acadia assembled in Lansing.
“The Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse will continue to be built at Lansing Delta Township as part of GM’s $583 million in investments in the facility since 2014,” GM said in a March statement. “All-new versions of both models will be built at LDT this year.”
Spring Hill’s workers make two crossover vehicles, the Cadillac XT5 and AMC Acadia, and two engines.
“We’re blessed to have two of the hottest crossover vehicles,” Herron said Sunday.
Temporary workers would be the first to go if there’s layoffs, The Daily Herald has learned. Seniority will protect the jobs of most workers.
“I do not regard any workers temporary or permanent,” Herron said. “Any UAW member is a member, regardless of employment status, temporary or permanent. We wish all workers were permanent.”
When it started producing two vehicles in Spring Hill, the factory had trouble finding enough people to fill jobs. Temporary workers were a solution.
“All of our workers have the training and knowledge to produce these world-class products,” Herron said. “We hope if anyone is left go, they will be the first to come back when the company hires for future projects.”
Those would include another engine scheduled to go online later this year.
The Daily Herald emailed two of GM’s spokespeople for comment Sunday. Neither responded by deadline.
Workers in Spring Hill learned last month about the company’s financial performance in 2017. Their year-end bonus is based on profitability. Basically, each full-time workers receives $1,000 for every $1 billion GM makes in profit. The bonus in 2017 for 2016 performance was up to $12,000.
In a conference call last month, GM CEO Mary Barra said the company will continue to focus on areas where it’s making profits. It made a record $2.6 billion in the first quarter of 2017 — a record opening three months since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009. It earned $1.93 billion in the same period a year ago.
The profits are notable since industry sales in North America are beginning to fall after seven years of sustained growth. GM’s earnings come one day after Ford announced its first-quarter profits fell 35% to $1.6 billion. It was the eighth straight quarter that GM beat Wall Street expectations.
Meanwhile, Barra was asked earlier this month by Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas if she has any desire to leave GM for another role, possibly in government.
“I am 150 percent committed to General Motors. In my 37-year career (at GM) this is an incredibly exciting time because not only do I believe we are putting the best vehicles on the road that we have in my career here but when I look at the opportunities we have here with autonomous, with electric, with connectivity, I am very passionate about it.”
“And so I am 150% dedicated to this company and continuing to demonstrate that at General Motors we can be the industry leader in transforming transportation and also being very responsive to the environment…So that is where my focus is and will continue to be going forward.”
James Bennett is editor of The Daily Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.