GM battles unions over recent hiring of salaried employees

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The GM Wentzville, MO., plant. - MICHAEL B. THOMAS/GETTY IMAGES

General Motors (GM) has clashed with the United Auto Workers union in a dispute over the company’s hiring of salaried workers for its pickup-truck factory near St. Louis, Missouri.

According to UAW, GM is contractually obligated to fill assembly-line positions with union members. 3,800 hourly employees are currently represented by UAW.

GM responded to the complaint in a statement explaining that its actions were justified during this troubling time, i.e. the coronavirus pandemic. The company argues that it needs to make up for lost production in the spring following a two-month shutdown of the Wentzville, Missouri, plant.

Admittedly, hiring white-collar workers for assembly-line positions is outside of the norm for GM, which has a heavy union presence within the company.

Overall, auto-manufacturers have managed to largely survive the coronavirus pandemic in comparison to airlines, restaurants, retail and other industries.

That said, there have been plenty of challenges. As auto-manufacturers began to reopen following the economic shutdown throughout March and April, manpower problems became immediately apparent as workers were forced to take time off to care for sick loved ones.