UAW: Remaining GM workers on layoff to be called back by Sept.

UAW: Remaining GM workers on layoff to be called back by Sept.
David Barkolz
Automotive News | March 23, 2011 – 11:03 am EST
UPDATED: 3/23/11 11:50 a.m. ET
DETROIT — UAW Vice President Joe Ashton said the final 2,000 hourly workers at General Motors on layoff will be back to work by September.
Ashton, who heads the union’s GM department, said the ramp-up of GM’s Orion Township assembly plant in Michigan combined with new third shifts at the automaker’s Flint and Detroit-Hamtramck plants, also in Michigan, will bring full employment to UAW-represented workers at GM.
Separately, UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles said Ford Motor Co.’s hourly workers represented by the union also are all back to work, except for some temporary layoffs at Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant. The  Louisville factory is being retooled to build the next-generation Ford Escape. Settles is head of the UAW Ford department.
GM’s Orion plant is ramping up for the launch of the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact. Flint builds pickups, while Detroit-Hamtramck builds the Chevrolet Volt and other sedans.
Ashton, who addressed delegates at the UAW special bargaining convention here, said the union would fight in the upcoming contract negotiations with GM to find work to restart idled plants in Spring Hill, Tenn., and Janesville, Wis., and to keep the Shreveport, La., factory operating.
The Shreveport plant is scheduled to close in 2012. This week the plant, which makes the GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado compact pickups, has been idled because of a shortage of parts stemming from the disaster in Japan.
Ashton said he was proud of the UAW’s Orion contract that has been controversial with rank-and-file workers. “I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said, explaining that the Sonic would not have been built in the United States if not for contract changes at the plant.
Among those is the requirement that no more than 60 percent of hourly workers receive traditional $28-an-hour wages, while the rest receive entry-level wages and benefits equal to about half those of traditional workers.
Orion will begin production of the Sonic this summer.

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