Skip to content

Proposed GM deal includes 1,700 new jobs

Proposed GM deal includes 1,700 new jobs

Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 8:02 pm

Associated Press
CHATTANOOGA (AP) — As General Motors Co. plans to create more than 1,700 new jobs at a Tennessee assembly plant where about 2,000 employees were laid off two years ago, the mayor of Spring Hill said the turnaround seems too good to be true.
“It’s almost like Alice in Wonderland falling into a rabbit hole,” Spring Hill Mayor Michael Dinwiddie said Tuesday. “All we hear is about how bad the economy is, that all the jobs are going overseas.”
A summary of GM’s proposed contract with the United Auto Workers shows the jobs were originally destined for Mexico. Hiring at the plant south of Nashville is to begin next year.
“It’s absolutely fantastic news,” Dinwiddie said. “Folks will come in and purchase houses. They will be spending money in our businesses.”
At the Embers Tavern and Grille, near the plant where GM decades ago launched the Saturn, owner and GM Spring Hill retiree Ben McFarlane said he looks forward to a return of big shift-change crowds in the afternoon, the 10 p.m. “beer drinkers shift” and the influx of skilled trade workers who will be in town to install new equipment.
“That is going to be a huge boost for us,” McFarlane said. “It’s been most noticeable at the shift change.”
A summary of the proposed contract shows GM will restart its assembly plant and build two midsize cars in Spring Hill.
GM will invest $61 million for one of the cars and add 600 jobs, and will spend $358 million on the other car with 1,100 jobs created.
Since laying off about 2,000 Spring Hill workers in 2009 and tearing out equipment, GM has invested hundreds of millions of dollars and recalled hundreds of employees to build the company’s new Ecotec four-cylinder engine.
Hundreds of idled workers have relocated to GM plants in other states but many are still in Middle Tennessee. While United Auto Workers leaders either weren’t available or weren’t talking publicly about the proposed agreement Tuesday, members are expected to vote on Friday.
McFarlane said many idled GM employees have since taken jobs at other plants, with their families still in Spring Hill, which is located in Maury County. The county has an unemployment rate of about 13 percent.
“Some of them may be able to return,” McFarlane said.
At a Quik Mart convenience store near the plant, employee Keith Davis said he hopes the return of GM workers will revive the lunchtime sandwich business.
“We are definitely going to benefit from people being back to work,” he said.  
Spring Hill Auto Lube manager Grady Stewart said business has dropped off significantly since the layoffs in 2009.
He looks forward to oil change customers returning and busy lunch times.
“When they were up and going they did it on their lunch time and we had like a line,”’ Stewart said. “Now we barely have anything. We are definitely going to benefit from people being back to work.”
Published in The Messenger 9.21.11


Leave a Comment