Thursday, July 25, 2024

More than half of jobs on the chopping block at GM’s Brownstown Battery Plant

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A battery is lifted into place for installation in the Chevrolet Bolt EV at the General Motors Orion Assembly plant in Orion Township, Michigan. [AP Photo/Duane Burleson]

By the end of June, 183 jobs will be cut at General Motors’ Brownstown Battery plant, leaving only 107 workers at the plant. Workers with seniority rights have been told they will be able to transfer to other plants; temporary workers have no transfer rights. Like many promises made under the United Auto Workers contracts, however, even these transfers are far from guaranteed.

Located south of Detroit in the Downriver area, the plant produces batteries for combustion vehicles and for electric vehicles (EV) including the GM Cruise, which is made at the Lake Orion plant north of Detroit, and the electric Hummer made at Factory Zero in Hamtramck, an enclave of Detroit. Brownstown also plays a role in the Cruise Autonomous Vehicle (AV), responsible, with the roof module production, for all of Cruise’s self-driving vehicles.

The job cuts come during the eruption of a crisis within the UAW bureaucracy. On June 9, the federal monitor in charge of overseeing the UAW bureaucracy issued a status report revealing that it is conducting a growing investigation into the administration of UAW President Shawn Fain for the misuse of union resources.

Since then, a series of heated correspondence between Shawn Fain and Rich Boyer, the union’s vice president for Stellantis who had been recently demoted by Fain, has revealed that they both knew of the planned termination of thousands of Stellantis temporary workers under the new contract, which the union falsely hails as an historic victory, following a limited “standup strike” which did not seriously impact auto production.

In order to get the contact ratified, temp workers were falsely promised full-time status. Thousands of them have since been fired.

The workers at Brownstown are GM Subsystems workers, a subsidiary formerly on a separate UAW contract with a lower pay scale. When the facility opened in 2010, it both served the ends of super-exploitation by GM and as a source of dues-revenue for the UAW.

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