The United Auto Workers recently secured a record contract for American automakers. Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler, came to terms with the UAW to end the six-week strike and get production lines back up and running at their domestic facilities. The UAW secured record gains for employees despite the resistance from the Automakers.
While the new contract ensures job security for thousands of employees, it still can’t stop the inevitable end of production of certain vehicles and the layoffs sure to follow. In fact, some of those layoffs were just announced by General Motors. The company is ending the model run of two long-standing passenger cars and cutting 1300 workers along with it.
The layoffs, which affect workers in Michigan, were expected and will begin starting early in 2024. The models being discontinued are the electric Chevrolet Bolt and the legendary Chevy Camaro. The Bolt, built in the Orion plant, is ending its model run and taking 945 jobs with it. Production is scheduled to end in mid-December, with the layoffs taking effect January 1. The facility is being retooled to build an electric truck and is scheduled to come back online in 2025.
The remaining workers will be laid off from the General Motors Lansing Grand River Assembly/Stamping facility. The plant stamped the steel for the Camaro and will continue operations, stamping Caddilac Sedan models. Previously the company announced that there would be layoffs at the facility, but did not disclose how many until now. The layoffs at Grand River will begin in January and last through March.
General Motors said in a statement: “Lansing Grand River Assembly informed employees today that the plant will adjust staffing levels due to the end of Camaro production. As a result, about 350 employees will be affected beginning Jan. 2. GM anticipates having job opportunities for all impacted team members per the provisions of the UAW-GM National Agreement.” The end of the Camaro marks the end of an era for both muscle cars and General Motors as automakers continue their shift away from passenger cars into trucks and SUVs.
Due to the binding language of the UAW contracts, displaced workers will be offered jobs at other facilities or possibly early retirement through buyouts. While no actual employees are being fired, having to choose to uproot a family and move to another town for a job opportunity often serves as a defacto firing as many employees simply are unwilling to do so.
This news comes at a bad time for General Motors, as their self-driving venture, Cruise, recently announced that 24% of their workforce was being laid off as the company attempts to cut costs in the face of budget overruns on electric vehicles. GM has been attempting to pilot driverless taxis in certain cities but has been brought with mishaps and, as a result, suspended operations nationwide. GM said in a statement: “We expect the pace of Cruise expansion to be more deliberate when operations resume and spending will be substantially lower in 2024 than it was in 2023.”
Things are looking a bit rocky for the world’s largest automaker. Even if the layoffs were expected, slashing jobs on the heels of a UAW contract battle isn’t a good look. As the company continues to struggle with the EV market and driverless taxis, other automakers will certainly be looking to learn from and capitalize on General Motors’ mistakes.