General Motors made an official announcement today about adding nearly 500 jobs at its plant in Spring Hill. WPLaid off workers are already being called back.
Some 2,000 GM employees were laid off last November when production of the Chevy Traverse moved to Michigan. As the months ticked off, Diane Crossman says she grew more worried.
“It was kind of scary because I didn’t want to move, and if they didn’t put anything here, I would eventually have to put in for another plant. But I’m just glad we’ve got something in here now and I can go back to work, and I can retire.”
Still, not nearly everyone who wants to return to the plant will get to. The 483 people who will be brought back will build highly-efficient 4-cylinder engines. GM is putting nearly $500 million in the Spring Hill operation, and a company executive says the investment represents a commitment to “greening” the automaker. Mark Reusse, head of GM’s North American operations, says the new GM must build cars people want and feel good about driving.
Spring Hill Still Wants Assembly Assignment
At a press conference on the plant floor, state officials and union leaders praised GM for the new jobs building an engine. But they say the end goal is having one or more lines going, assembling a vehicle, which employs many more people in the plant and creates jobs for area suppliers.
Reusse says the recently bankrupt company is being cautious not to over-extend itself.
“We don’t want to reinvest too quickly and put ourselves and our workers at risk again, so we’re not going to do that. We’re going to let the demand, the market and the economy really dictate the pace and where we reinvest.”
But Reusse says GM’s plants are running at 90% capacity, suggesting it could be a matter of time before idled assembly lines like the one in Spring Hill are fired up again.
Corker Receives Chilly Welcome in Spring Hill
Senator Bob Corker received a chilly welcome from workers at GM Spring Hill. They haven’t forgotten his recommendation to reduce union benefits and his vote against a federal bailout.
Tepid applause turned into boo’s as Corker took the podium.
In his defense, Corker said GM has been able to turn around, and he claims some credit for suggesting parts of the restructuring.
However, UAW regional director Gary Casteel put the crowd’s feelings into words.
“I wasn’t going to bring it up, but that’s probably a lie. I would have brought it up. We didn’t mind the raucous debate in Washington. We took offense to the vote, the vote to bailout Wall Street and not to bailout the auto industry. That’s where we took offense.”
Despite the criticism, Corker says he’s still comfortable with the votes he took and he doesn’t expect to change the minds of those with hard feelings.