GM Fort Wayne Assembly hosts job fair May 4

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FORT WAYNE — With the success of its full-size pickup redesign launch highlighted in a first quarter earnings report, General Motors Co. is not planning a summer shutdown at its Fort Wayne Assembly Plant.

The facility is northeast Indiana’s largest manufacturing employer, with a workforce of about 4,200, including salary, contract salary, hourly and temporary workers. Its permanent hourly workers are represented by United Auto Workers Local 2209.

The summer is the most popular time for vacations among its hourly workers, and to prepare for that the plant scheduled a career fair for 9 a.m. to noon May 4 at WorkOne’s location at 201 E. Rudisill Blvd. in Fort Wayne to look for about 200 part-time, temporary production employees to work June through August.

“When we say part-time, that means they may not be hired for a full week. They are what we call flex employees, specifically for Fridays and Mondays, and as temps they also would also work on any overtime Saturdays and Sundays,” said Stephanie Jentgen, plant spokeswoman.

“Every plant is allowed a certain number of vacation replacements and sick leave replacements,” Jentgen said. That number is established through labor contract negotiations and “agreed upon at the national levels,” she said.

A list of important information in the job fair announcement about the temporary positions for which GM will be hiring included:

• Candidates must be available 3rd, 1st and 2nd shifts, Friday through Monday.

• Must be able to work in a fast-paced environment.

• Responsible for assembly, machining, quality checks, tool changes, and problem-solving of manufacturing processes and equipment.

• Overtime hours may be required with little notice.

• Production Saturdays may be required.

• Starting wage is $15.78 per hour, with potential for growth. Holiday pay and health care options after 90 days.

• Current temporary employees may receive preference if regular full-time positions become available.

More information about the positions is available at //bit.ly/2Gbruz1 and Jentgen said individuals could apply for them online without attending the job fair.

GM plants don’t typically provide figures for the total number of temporary workers they employ, partly because it can fluctuate a great deal, depending on factors including the time of year and special projects underway at the facility, she said.

For example, when training is required for new tools and processes, temporary employees can be needed to fill in for the regular workers undergoing training.

The Fort Wayne Assembly Plant employs workers on three shifts making full-size, light-duty double-cab and crew-cab Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, and customers are responding well to their redesign.

The company invested $1.2 billion to prepare the facility near the intersection of U.S. 24 and Interstate 69 at Roanoke for production of the next-generation pickup trucks. They also are built at GM plants in Flint, Mich. and Silao, Mexico.

The first light-duty 2019 Silverados and Sierras began arriving in dealerships last August and the company’s earnings report released April 30 said the launch was proceeding ahead of plan during the first quarter.

GM reported first quarter earnings of $2.1 billion, or $1.48 per share, up 93 percent from $1 billion, or 72 cents per share, for the same period last year. Its revenue fell 3 percent to $34.9 billion from $36.1 billion.

“GM’s first-quarter operating results were in line with expectations we shared in January. My confidence in the year ahead remains strong, driven by our all-new full-size truck launch and our ongoing business transformation,” Mary Barra, GM’s chair and CEO, said in the earnings report.

Silverado and GMC light-duty crew cab sales rose 20 percent from a year earlier and delivered on the company’s strategy to begin the launch with high-content, high-margin trucks, the statement said.

“These all-new crew cab models generated transaction prices nearly $5,800 higher than the crew-cab models they replace,” it said. “The 2019 GMC Sierra leads the segment in pricing, with more than 95 percent of its sales in high-end models.”

With a smooth production ramp up for the new trucks, GM sold 75,000 of them during the fourth quarter. It began full production for its regular and double-cab versions of the trucks in March, according to plan.

“If you look at Fort Wayne, we’re already up and running in full volume, and that transition is over,” Dhivya Suryadevara, GM’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in response to a question during a conference call with securities industry analysts on its first quarter earnings.

“If you switch over to Silao, which is where we had taken our downtime in fourth quarter, we are now up to full line rate production for our light-duty pickups,” he said.

“So after January, we’re up to our full level of production. So light-duties, I would say, we’re pretty much done with our transition.”

GM officials were asked during the call about the company’s plans to reduce annual costs by unallocating five plants for operation.

Those changes, announced last year, would cut 14,000 hourly and salaried positions and contribute to annual cost reductions of $4.5 billion and a lower capital expenditure annual run rate of close to $1.5 billion.

The UAW asked an Ohio court in January to order GM to transfer seniority union members to its Fort Wayne Assembly Plant.

Close to 1,000 seniority employees were laid off across the country at the time, including 690 at GM’s Lordstown (Ohio) Assembly Plant, where many employees had applied to transfer to openings at Fort Wayne Assembly, a UAW statement said.

In addition to Lordstown, shutdowns scheduled for 2019 were to take place at two propulsion plants — Baltimore Operations in White Marsh, Md., and Warren Transmission Operations in Warren, Mich. — and at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Detroit and Oshawa Assembly in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.

The company needs to finalize the status of those plans as part of its UAW negotiations this year, particularly “when you look at the fact that of the 2,800 workers that are impacted, 1,200 of them are retirement-eligible and we have about 2,700 jobs available,” Barra said in the conference call.

About 950 of the affected workers have been placed at other GM plants, she said. Jentgen said 50 workers from the Lordstown plant had transferred to Fort Wayne Assembly.

With GM offering seniority employees jobs at a number of plants, Barra said she didn’t see their unallocation risks “especially with the ability that we have to move the people to places where we’re hiring.

“I mean, we just announced yesterday that we have 1,000 jobs available in Flint,” she said. “So I think it’s the transition we have to go through.”