Powertrain Employees Going Back to Work - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Powertrain Employees Going Back to Work

TOLEDO -- Good news for workers at the GM powertrain plant in Toledo. Laid-off employees are heading back to work.

The company had its first permanent layoffs in 25 years last December.  That left a total of 500 people without jobs.  GM now says the workers are all coming back by the beginning of next month.

The plant makes four-speed, automatic, rear-wheel drive transmissions for several models of GM trucks, SUV's, vans and even the Corvette. But three things combined to bring more work to the plant in west Toledo.  First, the plant started building heavy-duty transmissions.  Second, GM decided to shut another plant down in Romulus.  And third, employee-pricing has sparked sales for pickups and SUV's. That adds up to all 500 people coming back soon.

21-year powertrain plant veteran Dan Macut knew he wasn't washed up a couple months ago but to hear he was being laid off, "It's kind of a shock at first," said Macut. "You start thinking about your bills and how to make ends meet," he added.

Macut, like many of the other 500 workers, has a house, a kid in college, and financial responsibilities he can't set aside. "We go strong and then you think 'Okay here's a layoff.'  What's our future?" said Macut.

He and others should be back to work by August 1st. "We've got a lot of calls from people and everyone's going to be pleased to get back like we were before all this started," said Oscar Bunch, president of UAW Local 14.

That union represents 3,000 Powertrain workers. He told News 11 that GM sales have been great and their relationship with the company has been even better. "This is our 23rd year that we signed and worked together and get along, and it's certainly been a blessing for our membership because it's been job security for us," said Bunch.

Macut now feels more secure after hearing he'll go back to work and seeing a more steady stream of support from GM. "It's great. It just shows that what we do here is appreciated by the company and our product is received well," commented Macut.

So well, in fact, that Bunch says they normally assemble about 7,000 transmissions per day. Now they're going to be making 7,700 or more a day through at least the first of the year. He also said now that the workers are coming back, the next biggest challenge they face is the higher prices for gas.  That could make the big trucks and SUV's less popular.

Updated by AEB

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