General Motors needs workers at its most modern factory in North America.
The automaker is looking to hire hundreds at Factory ZERO, the plant that straddles Detroit and Hamtramck. It is where GM is assembling the 2022 GMC Hummer EV pickup and, later this year, will start building more EVs.
On Monday, GM started a job fair hoping to improve its odds at winning talent.
The lobby at 2500 E. Grand Blvd. in Detroit quickly overflowed with applicants. By Tuesday noon, the line snaked out the factory office’s doors and around the corner of the building, UAW Local 22 Shop Chairman Scott Harwick told the Free Press.
Harwick, who represents about 450 of the 550 workers at the plant, hopes many of those job applicants qualify and will get offers, show up and stay in the job.
“I believe they extended 20 offers for skilled trades people. I need about 100,” Harwick said. “So it’s good. I will take as many as I can get. But, I want more.”
Since late last year, Michigan’s auto industry has had trouble hiring people and keeping them in jobs despite good starting pay and benefits. Factory ZERO is no exception. For example, GM has been trying to hire people for “subsystem” jobs since December and struggles to get them to stay, Harwick said.
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As a hypothetical example, “They might find 10 candidates that are good, but then only eight show up for work,” Harwick said. “Then some of those eight might find out they are not working for General Motors assembly, but rather the subsystems, under a different contract, and so they might not come back.”
Competing for talent
Harwick hopes the job fair will help to clear up what he says is a “confusion between General Motors’ assembly line versus GM’s subsystem.”
The subsystem jobs include moving parts and materials around the plant. Those workers do work for GM, but they have a different union contract than the hourly employees who do skilled trades and general assembly jobs. The latter are covered by the UAW National Agreement.
Harwick said when new hires realize the difference, and the lower pay rate in their contract, they often quit.
On Monday, the job fair ran from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with GM strictly hiring for skilled trades positions such as electricians, millwrights, toolmakers and pipe fitters. The jobs are permanent and full-time with a starting wage of $35.78 an hour, Harwick said.
On Tuesday the fair runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. seeking skilled trades and subsystem hires.
On Wednesday, GM will be hiring from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for the subsystem jobs only. The subsystem jobs do not require prior experience. Harwick did not know the starting wage for those jobs.
GM spokesman Dan Flores did not immediately have starting wage information for subsystem jobs or other details such as the exact number of open positions the plant seeks to fill.
Flores declined to comment on the personal reasons some people take a job and then quit soon after, but he acknowledged it is a tight job market in many of the cities where GM operates.
“We are competing for talent at all levels of the company, both hourly and salaried,” Flores said. “We are exploring a variety of ways to increase the awareness of job opportunities. That’s one of the key reasons for the job fairs in several plant cities.”
‘We need people’
Like the skilled trades jobs, the open subsystem jobs are all permanent and full-time. The plant runs on one shift, 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., but Flores said “stay tuned for future shifts.”
Flores said GM has had a “great response” to the job fair and expects the same for “the rest of this week’s activities.” The lobby was “packed with potential candidates,” he said.
GM has said Factory ZERO will eventually employ more than 2,000.
Flores said people can apply ahead of attending the job fair by using the QR codes in the flyer, or can go to search-careers.gm.com/ and find a specific opening and apply ahead of time. Those applying for skilled trades positions should bring their resumes and can expect to do an interview the same day, Flores said.
GM subsystems candidates do not need to apply ahead of time and can expect to do an interview on the same day, Flores said.
“We will be doing same day contingent offers for qualified candidates,” Flores said. “Potential candidates can expect to start within the next three to four weeks.”
Factory ZERO will be GM’s epicenter for EV production with the Hummer EV already rolling off the assembly line, a Hummer SUV to follow and eventually the 2024 Silverado EV pickup. The Silverado EV will also be made at Orion Assembly in Orion Township after GM spends about $4 billion to convert and expand that plant to make more EVs.
At Factory ZERO, GM has half of the people needed in the body shop and paint shop, Harwick said. On Feb. 18, GM put out a notice that it was looking to transfer 350 hourly workers to the factory, but it then pulled that notice back on Feb. 26 after deciding it did not need that many people yet, Harwick said.
Harwick said he got five transfers to the plant for skilled trades recently. He expects that GM will resubmit the transfer notice for the 350 workers for general assembly, paint shop and body shop in late spring.
Meanwhile, production of the Hummer is humming along on target, Harwick said.
“We’re going pretty good. We’re slowly building and shipping cars,” Harwick said. “We’re on our pace that they set, on schedule. The pace picks up in September-ish; that’s why they’ll bring in people in July to fully staff general assembly, the body shop and the paint shop.”
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