As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to circulate around the world, a large number of industries have suffered. One such industry is the auto industry.
General Motors (GM) has suffered a high amount of absenteeism from employees not showing up for their shift work, particularly at the company's Wentzville Assembly plant.
Taking matters into its own hands, GM employed white-collar workers to join truck assembly lines, and the UAW is furious, per the Detroit Free Press.
Different contract interpretation
In order to keep its Wentzville plant going, GM decided to welcome white-collar employees to work in the assembly lines. This is something that goes against their contract, per the UAW's statement to the Detroit Free Press.
The newspaper explained that the plant in question typically has three shifts with around 1,250 workers on each shift. But, due to employees not showing up for the shifts for fear of catching or spreading COVID-19, GM's struggled to keep all three shifts up and running.
So, it looked elsewhere and brought in around 200 temporary workers to keep the shifts in action, a dozen of which are white-collar employees — this is where the issue begins.
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Jim Cain, a spokesperson for GM told the paper "The team on the ground in Wentzville is trying to navigate a very difficult situation to keep the plant operating while accommodating employees who are not showing up to work due to concern of COVID."
Because GM hasn't been able to find enough union workers to cover fellow union workers' absence, the UAW objects to its decision stating it's going against their signed contract.
The contract states that "Supervisory employees shall not be permitted to perform work on any hourly-rated job except in the following types of situations: 1) in emergencies arising out of unforeseen circumstances which call for immediate action to avoid interruption of operations."
You might see the current pandemic as an "emergency arising out of unforeseen circumstances," but it looks like the UAW doesn't see it that way.
GM is looking to solve the matter, as well as keep its plant running. Notably, it will be sending some of its workers from its Tennessee plant to work in Wentzville, per Carscoops.