Plant proposes new shift times to save money
Changing shift schedules would allow the plant to produce cars with less overtime, an official says.
By DON SHILLING
VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR
LORDSTOWN -- General Motors wants workers at its Lordstown Assembly Plant to give up their paid lunch and stay on the assembly line longer.
It is proposing a major restructuring of shift times, which would add 54 minutes to each shift and require workers to be on the line 12 minutes longer, said John Mohan, shop chairman of United Auto Workers Local 1112.
The additional time on the line would produce 18 more cars per shift, Mohan said.
Maureen Midgley, named plant manager at Lordstown last year, said she intended to inform plant workers of the change Wednesday -- so she didn't want to discuss details. It would be effective Feb. 4.
Reason for change: She said the goal was to reduce overtime while keeping the plant in line with the United Auto Workers' national labor agreement. The contract provides for two 23-minute breaks and an unpaid, 30-minute lunch break.
While management can enact the changes because they fit the contract, it has been negotiating with the union the past several days.
Mohan said Monday that he hoped for a change in the proposal that would make workers spend their afternoon break at the plant. They now are able to leave the plant 24 minutes before their shifts officially end because that is the start of their last break.
Mohan said management wants workers to stay for this afternoon break, which would be followed by seven minutes of work time. Mohan said management could require workers to go on the line at that time, but union officials issued a flier to members that said that time will be used for team meetings or other activities between supervisors and workers.
Longer shifts: In addition to having to stay for this last break, shifts also would be lengthened by 30 minutes because of the addition of the unpaid lunch break, Mohan said. Workers now receive a 24-minute paid lunch.
Midgley said Lordtown's break schedule became different from other GM plants in 1991 when it tried a new shift schedule to try to boost production and cut overtime. Weekly shifts consisted of four 10-hour days; workers were paid for 44 hours or 48 hours, depending on which days they worked.
In 1998, however, GM negotiated a return to eight-hour daily schedules, saying the previous arrangement wasn't cutting costs.
Mohan said the current schedule was devised to provide more than an hour of downtime between the end of day shift and the start of evening shift. This time was needed to clean paint booths, he said.
New methods have allowed this work to be done in smaller amounts of time, however, so now management wants the cleaning to be done on each shift while workers are on break, he said.