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Thousands of GM workers still facing required overtime to catch up after last year's strike

Dustin Dwyer
Michigan Radio
The General Motors Components Holdings facility near Grand Rapids is one of at least six GM sites where workers are still facing required overtime.

Months after the strike at General Motors ended, thousands of workers are being required to work long hours to catch up on a parts backlog.

At least six GM plants – including five in Michigan – are on so-called “emergency status.”

That means workers face required overtime. Some have been asked to work seven days a week, or on 12 hour shifts.

"They're very pissed," says UAW Local 167 bargaining chair Martin Wood.

Martin Wood is the bargaining chair for UAW Local 167, which represents about 800 workers at the General Motors Components Holdings facility near Grand Rapids.

“They’re very pissed,” Wood says of the required overtime. “They’re upset. I mean my phone is blowing up all the time. I can’t sleep some nights because I feel for them. They don’t want to work these 12 hour days. And it’s a tough situation that we’re in.”

Following the end of the strike in October, many UAW members were eager to get back to work and earn a paycheck. Some looked forward to the prospect of overtime as the automaker tried to catch up on the production it lost during the strike.

But Wood says he expected workers would get more of a choice whether to accept the overtime.

“I didn’t expect them to put us under emergency status for this long,” Wood says. He says he's still trying to find out from the company how long the status will last. 

The Detroit Free Press first reported on the extended emergency status for GM parts processing centers in Southeast Michigan.

GM spokesman Jim Cain initially couldn’t confirm how many total plants remain on emergency status, with required overtime.

“What’s a GMCH plant?” Cain responded when asked whether all four of General Motors Components Holdings facilities were under emergency status.

Cain later provided a partial list of affected facilities, including:

  • Flint Assembly
  • Willow Run Redistribution Center
  • Ypsilanti Processing Center
  • Davison Road Processing Center (In Burton, Mich.)
  • Grand Rapids Operations

Michigan Radio confirmed one more facility under emergency status: the GMCH facility in Rochester, New York.
Cain says GM customers and dealers have faced delays getting needed parts since the strike. He says the company needs to catch up as soon as possible.

“We’re really grateful for the hard work that people are putting in,” Cain says. “And, it’s important for us to remember why we’re doing it. And number one is because if we’ve got customers that need service or repair parts, we need to take care of them.”

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Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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