Return to work bittersweet for GM employees - WKRN News 2

Return to work bittersweet for GM employees

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SPRING HILL, Tenn. - Hundreds of General Motors workers in Spring Hill returned to the assembly line Monday morning.

The plant was shutdown on June 5 for what was scheduled be a four week break in production to reduce the automaker's inventory.

The furlough was extended to seven weeks.

While employees were glad to get back to work, it will be short lived.

The Spring Hill plant will be idled on November 25 when GM moves production of its Chevy Traverse to Michigan.

Beyond that, employees have no idea what the future holds.

"None of us have a crystal ball and I wish we had the answers but we don't," said Michael O'Rouke, president of the United Autoworkers Local 1853.  "We need the economy to pick up.  That's the most important thing for GM right now."

While most workers will continue to live in Spring Hill and work at plant at GM until the idle, some have taken other opportunities in other cities.

Some 200 employees have opted to move and work at plants in states like Texas, Kansas, Michigan and Indiana.

"They still have their families to look out for and they have that right, contractually," O'Rouke continued.

He said the only thing that remains certain is production will continue until November.

"I think the feeling in the plant is, ‘Hey, we're gonna build great Chevy vehicles for the next four months to do everything we can do to help GM come back'," said O'Rouke, adding he's confident the Spring Hill plant will be utilized in the near future.

"They've put a lot of money in this place and it's a valuable site.  We just got to hope sales of Malibu's go up and they'll need Malibu's out here for awhile until we can find a product."

Until then, O'Rourke says he, along with everyone else, will just have to wait and see.

"Unfortunately, [there are] a lot of answers we don't have and probably won't have," he said.  "[It] could be a year or two, honestly."

Spring Hill's city administrator said they are trying to stay patient and optimistic about the future of car manufacturing in their city.

"The plant is so technologically advanced that it wouldn't make sense for GM to keep it idled too long," said Mike Dinwiddie.  "It's too nice a plant to just sit there."

The city says while they're trying to show GM how valuable the Spring Hill plant and its workforce is, what happens long term is out of their hands.

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