Earlier this month, GM said that it would cut the third shift at Wenztville Assembly due to a high rate of employee absenteeism. At the time, the automaker said that it would soon “begin canvassing 3rd shift employees to identify their desire to either participate in a temporary layoff or express their interest to be considered for available work opportunities,” and would operate the plant on only two shifts. About 1,250 people work on the third shift at the plant, which builds the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup trucks and the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana work vans.
Now, however, GM has said that it has “a plan in place that will enable Wentzville to keep operating on three shifts,” despite the high rate of worker absenteeism.
“It’s been a challenging time to accommodate people who were not returning to work due to concerns about COVID-19,” GM spokesman Dan Flores told The Detroit Free Press this week. “The new operating plan will include GM transfers from other locations and that certainly will help. Any transfer is handled in accordance with the terms of the union contract.”
Many third shift workers were not showing up to work due to concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. While GM has implemented safety protocols at its plants that include taking employee temperatures and requiring PPE, some still do not feel safe showing up to work while the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing.
“We respect people who don’t want to report to work due to COVID concerns. But most of the workforce does feel safe,” Flores added. “We’ll obviously keep monitoring it, but we are very confident our safety protocols are working.”
One Wentzville worker told The Free Press that GM’s decision not to share total COVID-19 case numbers from its plants is affecting employee trust and leading to absenteeism. GM, for its part, says it is protecting employee privacy by not disclosing case numbers from its facilities.
“People don’t know who has it and who doesn’t,” the worker, who chose to remain anonymous, told the newspaper. “GM’s lack transparency is hurting productivity.”
GM said previously that it needs a third shift at Wentzville due to the “strong dealer and customer demand for mid-size trucks and vans,” at the moment.