General Motors is canceling shifts at four of its biggest U.S. factories Monday, including its highly profitable full-size SUV plant in Texas and its midsize pickup plant in Missouri.
A severe winter storm is delivering arctic temperatures, snow and ice accumulation that can hinder operations, create dangerous driving conditions for workers and impede parts delivery to plants.
On Monday, GM spokesman David Barnas told the Free Press that the automaker canceled the following shifts:
—Three shifts at its midsize SUV plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee.
—Three shifts at its full-size SUV factory in Arlington, Texas, after the governor issued a disaster declaration.
—The second shift at its Bowling Green Assembly plant in Kentucky, where it builds the Corvette.
—The second shift at Wentzville Assembly in Missouri, where GM makes its Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups and the Chevy Express and GMC Savana full-size vans.
In total, slightly more than 8,000 workers have been affected across the four facilities, Barnas said. Production plans at the plants beyond second shift Monday will continue to be evaluated, he said, noting employee safety in severe weather is a big part of GM’s consideration.
A spokesman for the UAW said the contract stipulates that those workers affected by the shift cancellations will receive most, if not all, of their regular pay.
Inclement weather hits industry
The weather has disrupted production at Ford Motor Co. too. It is shutting down production of its highly profitable 2021 F-150 pickup trucks and Transit Vans for a full week in Kansas City, Missouri, because the cold temperatures could restrict the availability of natural gas.
Also Nissan North America said production at all four of its U.S. manufacturing facilities has been temporarily suspended. It is expected to resume production Tuesday, a Nissan spokesperson said. Nissan has a plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, where it builds six vehicles and several engines, employing 6,700 workers. It, along with three other facilities in Tennessee and Mississippi, are shut down for Monday.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing builds the Tundra and Tacoma pickups in San Antonio. The automaker stopped production Monday for “the safety of our employees. We do expect to resume normal operations when the roads and weather conditions are safe,” said Kelly Stefanich, Toyota spokeswoman.
Stellantis, formerly called Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, did not immediately provide a status on its North American production.
Volkswagen builds the Passat sedan and Atlas SUV at its Chattanooga Assembly plant. A Volkswagen spokesperson did not reply immediately for comment on its production plans.
No snowplows in Texas
At GM’s Arlington Assembly, GM canceled the third shift Sunday, which ran from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.. On Monday, GM canceled the first shift that runs dayside from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and later called off the second shift, which runs 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., Barnas said. GM’s plans for third shift will be considered later Monday, he said.
The Lone Star state is being hard hit by snow and power outages, said an employee at Arlington Assembly, who asked to not be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
“It’s 5 degrees with a wind chill of minus-10 degrees,” said the employee. “The roads are very bad. We don’t have snowplows here like they do in Michigan. Texas always waits till after the fact.”
Texas is seeing some of its coldest temperatures in more than three decades, with some areas breaking records that are more than a century old, according to the BBC. Parts of Texas hit zero degrees on Sunday. On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration and the weather warnings are in place for the week.
The Arlington employee said the typically warm and dry state got 5 inches of snow, knocking out power in his home.
Barnas said GM intends to make up as much production lost “as possible,” but he declined to provide the total impact on production at Arlington or Spring Hill.
Arlington Assembly is a crucial plant for GM where it employs about 1,650 workers per shift and runs three shifts. Most of 5,000 employees at Arlington are hourly and represented by the UAW.
GM builds the Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban full-size SUVs there. The vehicles are all richly profitable, helping to fund the development of GM’s electric vehicle push. GM has said it aspires for all its light vehicles to be zero emissions by 2035. The average Escalade sells for about $100,000.
At Arlington, GM has capacity to build about 1,200 vehicles a day there, according to its website, and pays $1 million in wages a day at Arlington.
Power outages, trees down
At GM’s Spring Hill Assembly, GM builds the Cadillac XT5, XT6 and GMC Acadia midsize SUVs. It also builds several engines there, including ones used in GM’s full-size pickups and full-size SUVs.
GM canceled the third shift at Spring Hill on Sunday and it has canceled first and second shifts on Monday. GM employs about 3,287 people across three shifts at Spring Hill. Most are hourly workers.
Tennessee is also under a winter storm warning until 7 a.m. Tuesday.
The forecast calls for 2 to 5 inches of snow and ice accumulation of one-tenth to three-tenths of an inch across the central to southwestern areas of the southern state. Power outages and tree damage are possible, along with travel difficulties.
Subzero temperatures are affecting Missouri. A wind chill warning is in effect until noon Tuesday.
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