SH mayor works at plant
SH mayor works at plant
|Spring Hill Mayor Michael Dinwiddie works at the General Motors Spring Hill Manufacturing plant. The mayor, who started work at the plant Monday, has been helping assemble the doors of the Chevrolet Traverse. Courtesy photo by Jack Cobb|
Dinwiddie joins GM assembly
By CHRIS GRAHAMfirstname.lastname@example.org
SPRING HILL — As a politician, Mayor Michael Dinwiddie has fought to keep the doors of his town’s General Motors assembly plant open. Now, as a factory employee, he will help close the doors on the last vehicles to roll off the line.
“We’re going to go down, but we’re going to go down together,” he said.
Production of the Chevrolet Traverse will shift to the Delta Township Assembly plant in Michigan on Nov. 25. The Spring Hill assembly plant will be placed on standby mode and about 2,100 employees will be laid off until GM’s sales and production levels allow for a return to work.
Last week Dinwiddie joined forces with about 3,000 men and women employed at the plant when Randstad, a staffing agency, placed him on second shift at the plant to help fashion the doors for the Traverse.
“I wanted to show my support by standing next to them and working with them all the way until the end,” he said.
Local UAW 1853 Chairman Mike Herron said the mayor is doing a fantastic job with what is considered by Herron as one of the most difficult tasks in the plant, assembling about 300 Traverse doors per shift.
Dinwiddie is living up to his campaign promise to support the workers at the plant, Herron said.
“It’s great that a politician has finally put their actions where their mouth is at,” he said.
Herron said the workers are appreciative of Dinwiddie’s efforts. The chairman said he has inspected the mayor’s work, which he said is top quality.
“He’s shown he doesn’t think too much of himself to build cars,” Herron said.
Dinwiddie said he hopes his time at the plant will give him a personal knowledge of the facility and its workers that will be useful in the future, especially if there’s a chance to lobby for Spring Hill to land a new GM product. He said it was the least he could do show his appreciation for the plant workers.
“They’ve always stood behind me, and it’s no secret that I support General Motors being here,” said Dinwiddie, who lobbied on several occasions in recent months for a product to be made at the Spring Hill plant. “The best way that I know how to support them now is by rolling up my sleeves and getting in the trenches.”
In addition to his part-time status as mayor, Dinwiddie is also president of Echelon Records, an independent record label group. He said he didn’t take the plant job for the money, though he would not discuss his hourly wage.
The job was advertised through Premier Manufacturing for $14-an-hour. Dinwiddie said he gets about $900 every month for his position as mayor.
“I’m not doing it to put food on the table; I’m doing it to support the employees out there,” he said.
Dinwiddie’s attitude that the GM factory is important to Spring Hill’s fortunes is a departure from that of his predecessor. Danny Leverette down played the plant’s role in the local economy.
“Even if the plant was to remove itself, it’s not going to have a major impact,” Leverette said in 2005.
Dinwiddie said now, as the plants’ suspension date looms, there is lot of uncertainty in his city of 25,000. But the mayor said he thinks the city will prosper in the long run and at some point the Spring Hill assembly lines will be used.
“I see us continuing to struggle like we are today,” he said. “In the long term, I’m 100 percent optimistic about the future of the city. … it wouldn’t surprise me if we were a town of 40,000 people in 10 years.”