General Motors will lay off its third shift of workers at the assembly plant where it builds its midsize pickups and full-size vans as cases of coronavirus surge in the surrounding community.
The automaker said starting July 20 it will reduce its Wentzville Assembly plant, which is near St. Louis, Mo., to two shifts.
"We believe in the short term a two-shift operation plan will allow us to operate as efficiently as possible and accommodate team members who are not reporting to work due to concerns about COVID-19 in the local community," GM spokesman David Barnas told the Free Press on Saturday.
But the layoffs will delay GM's efforts to restock supplies of the usually hot-selling Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups, Barnas said. Second-quarter sales saw a big decline in the slowing economy.
There are 1,250 workers per shift at Wentzville, he said. GM is still working on the details regarding the exact number of workers for temporary layoffs, he said. Also, there is no time frame set yet on the length of the layoff.
"We are working on a staffing plan that will allow us to return to three shifts as soon as possible," Barnas said.
'This is not good!'
The move comes after UAW leadership and GM leadership were in discussions all week as to what to do about Wentzville and GM's Arlington Assembly plant in Texas, said two sources familiar with the matter who declined to be named because they are not authorized to share that information with the media. Arlington sits near Dallas, a community that is also experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases.
Since the UAW negotiated its current contract prior to the outbreak of coronavirus, there is no clause to address how to handle it, therefore the union and the automakers must stay in continual discussions on ways to address the changing situation.
Late Friday night, the local shop chairman at Wentzville sent out a union posting to members that was obtained by the Free Press.