Spring Hill UAW Urgent on Finding Work, Leasing Out Headquarters to Cut Costs

Spring Hill UAW Urgent on Finding Work, Leasing Out Headquarters to Cut Costs

By Blake Farmer
WPLN News
February 1, 2010

There are 800 UAW union members left working at GM’s plant in Spring Hill. Production of the Chevy Traverse moved to Michigan late last year, and the union itself has taken a hit.

The indefinite layoff has been hard on the 1,100 union members who weren’t able to transfer within the company. The job loss has been tough on the UAW local 1853 as well. The union’s dwindling membership has forced officials to seek out a tenant to lease out part of its extravagant headquarters. Chairman Mike Herron says it was built when GM was booming in Spring Hill.

“You’ve got the full size Olympic pool, running track. You’ve got all these things that typically aren’t there. When we built this union hall, we built it at a time we had 6,000 members.”

GM’s CEO recently suggested a spike in sales might force the automaker to take plants off standby. At the Detroit auto show, Ed Whitacre specifically mentioned Spring Hill.

Even GM workers with the most seniority have less than a year before their partial pay runs out. Herron says that’s a driving factor in his rush to find a new assignment for the plant, but he says everyone suffers while the plant is idled – the workers, the community and the union itself.

“We’ve got a definite sense of urgency here. And it’s not necessarily you know, hey, we’ve got less than a year. It’s like we need to go ahead and have an absolute sense of urgency about doing everything we can to get a product in here.”

Production of the Chevy Traverse moved to Michigan last Thanksgiving. Roughly 800 workers are left building engines and molding plastic parts. Even for those who transferred, Herron says a majority intends to return to Spring Hill if the assembly plant is taken off standby.

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