In the midst of its every-four-year contract talks, the UAW has said it will push to send more than 2,000 laid off GM employees back to work by September this year.

Present contracts with Detroit’s Big Three expire Sept. 14, and this was the word from ongoing negotiations begun Tuesday at the UAW’s bargaining convention at Cobo Hall in Detroit. The talks are scheduled for three days total, and will end today.

On behalf of GM, Spokesperson Kim Carpenter, confirmed reports that more than 2,000 laid off workers will be rehired, but she could not confirm statements by Joe Ashton, the UAW’s VP in charge of GM and gaming locals, that all will be back to work by September.

“We can’t predict a date when that will be complete,” said Carpenter, who handles media inquiries pertaining to manufacturing and labor relations, “Every announcement we make has a unique timing structure.”


As GM rebounds into profitability, all its laid off workers are due back ASAP – not to build Volts, as shown, but other cars and trucks in GM's line. (Photo courtesy of GM.)

The more than 2,000 workers in question are all that remain of GM's work force still in layoff status, she said.

To date, Carpenter said GM has increased shifts at various plants to bring back the majority of employees who had been asked to stay home since its recent financial troubles.

“We have created or retained about almost 9,000 jobs since coming out of bankruptcy,” Carpenter said.

As feasible, more plants will get new shifts to take up the rest of the cut employees, Carpenter said, but no increases are scheduled for the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant where the Chevrolet Volt is built.

Carpenter could not confirm previous stories published by this, and several other publications that the Volt plant will have production increases this year and next. From a GM media relations standpoint, that is an unconfirmed rumor that GM Spokesman Rob Peterson later asked the media to recall.

Plants that will see more hiring will include the Flint Assembly Manufacturing Facility, which will get a third shift to make more GMC and Chevy pickups and heavy-duty trucks, and the Orion Assembly Center, which produces Chevrolet Sonics and Buick Veranos. A third plant to assimilate new re-hires will be the Lansing Grand River plant, which will take on a second shift to make more Cadillac CTS, STS, and SRX models.

Carpenter did say that after all previously cut workers get their jobs back, GM will look to bring in more “entry level workers.”

The UAW has said the same, and that these new employees will come on line under a two-tier wage system. Initially, their pay will be about half the pay of the restored workers.

While confirming this is the plan, Carpenter said GM is not in a position to predict when this will be either, as its first priority is to reinstate those still laid off.

“Our goal is as the market demands, that we increase our output,” Carpenter said, “that we, you know, bring people back to work and continue to make the products that people want to buy.”

The UAW is currently discussing jobs for all of Detroit’s Big Three. Its president Bob King has spoken in optimistic tones for its workers’ prospects, and growth for American jobs.

The UAW's comments were first reported yesterday by the Detroit Free Press , and Detroit News .

Statements by GM's spokesperson were recorded by GM-Volt.com during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. Attempts by e-mail and phone to reach the UAW's spokesperson for further commentary received no reply.