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How GM is Building the Final 2020 Chevrolet Tahoes and Suburbans When the Plants are Technically Closed

General Motors is asking UAW members to volunteer to return to work to build out the final 2020 Chevrolet Tahoes, Suburbans and GMC Yukons. The plant will then be switched over to build 2021 models after the COVID-19 crisis is over.

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General Motors is asking hundreds of its UAW employees to volunteer to come back to work and finish the last run of the 2020 Chevrolet Tahoes, Suburbans and GMC Yukons. The workers would be paid and when the work is completed, they would go back to their layoff status. The callbacks only apply to the plant in Arlington, Texas. GM is anxious to start building the all-new 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade.

Request For Workers to Complete the 2020 Chevrolet Tahoes and Suburbans

The 4000 workers at the Arlington plant received a message from management that said, “Our customers are counting on our trucks and it is important for the company to change over to our new trucks as quickly as possible. To this end, in the next hours, we will begin calling our full seniority hourly employees to volunteer to commit to work next week beginning Monday, March 30 on the day shift. In addition, volunteers will be solicited for all three shifts in maintenance and repair. Temporary workers will be called if more volunteers are needed.”

Company Also Using Paid Volunteers for Medical Supplies

The work is only expected to take a week and the company is taking special precautions to help ensure the workers’ safety during the COVID-19 crisis. According to the notice “As employee safety is our priority, Arlington Assembly put in numerous safeguards, including but not limited to thermal temperature scanning, individual questionnaires, additional personal protective equipment and cleaning crews, and limiting work to one shift per day for social distance.”

General Motors announced last week that it was shutting down its plants until March 30th because of the rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus. Similarly, GM is using paid volunteers to build the badly needed ventilators and medical masks in its facilities.

UAW 276 which represents the workers at the plant does not appear happy about the proposal and released this statement on its website. “Although we cannot choose if members volunteer or not, we ask that everyone think of their safety, and their family safety first before making any decision. This is on a volunteer basis only and the refusal of such work will not impact your ability to get unemployment or your ability to maintain employment at General Motors.”

The UAW can say that but the workers at the Arlington, Texas, plant are well known for doing whatever management asks. I remember very well back in 1992, when General Motors announced that it was closing its plant in Willow Run, Michigan and shifting the production from that plant to Arlington. I was at the news conference when GM said that the Arlington plant was less costly because it was located closer to many of the suppliers in Mexico. The company also admitted, at the time, that the Texas workers were more flexible about working odd shifts and a lot of overtime.

GM Anxious to Start Building New Models

GM is trying to finish up the 2020 model year so it can change over the plant to the 2021 models. This is the first big redesign of the 2021 Cadillac Escalade, 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe, 2021 Chevrolet Suburban and 2021 GMC Yukon in years. The new models are five inches longer and include as lot more interior room. GM has a lot of money riding on the big family haulers and is concerned about getting them to market later this year as promised. In the original posting asking for volunteers, GM says it is trying to fill the orders for customers and “to maintain critical business priorities”.

Follow Mary Conway at @maryconwaymedia and send her car news tips for future stories.

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