Saturn Plant Could Return To GM Orbit--If UAW Gets Its Way

March 30, 2011

The United Auto Workers will use new contract talks with General Motors, to try to reopen two factories in the company's empire and to add more unionized workers to its fold.

Reuters reports the UAW will try to negotiate the addition of new product-assembly lines at the former Saturn plant in Spring Hill, as well as GM's shuttered factory in Janesville, Wisconsin, formerly the production home of some of the company's big SUVs.

The UAW and the Big Three are nearing new rounds of negotiations on work agreements, the first since both GM and Chrysler entered bankruptcy in 2009.

A new deal could mean new vehicles driving off the line in Spring Hill for the first time in more than a year.

The plant began production in 1990 and was the home for the fledgling brand until 2007, building most of its sedans, wagons and crossovers until Saturn was shut down during GM's Chapter 11 proceedings. The site also had housed some production of the Chevrolet Traverse, which now is assembled in Michigan alongside the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia. Today, the Tennessee factory builds engines and stamps panels for other GM products.

With the wage concessions GM and the UAW agreed upon in the course of the last four years, many new hires would earn less than $15 an hour, which could make reopening the factories more enticing to GM as demand for new vehicles continues to gradually climb.

The union's givebacks already have paid off in the form of the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, which will be built in the Orion Twsp., Michigan, plant largely because the current deal for lower wages makes it economically feasible to build the small cars in America.

[Reuters via Yahoo News]

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