GM recalling some workers 'soon' to prep coronavirus restart

The first workers back would primarily be salaried employees, with a small number of skilled trades workers

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General Motors is telling some employees that they may be called back to work "soon" to prepare to restart its production plants post-coronavirus, the automaker confirmed to FOX Business Thursday.

The company is in the planning process and has not announced an official restart date, GM said. The first workers back would primarily be salaried employees, with a small number of skilled trades workers.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
GMGENERAL MOTORS COMPANY26.94+1.06+4.10%

The "Big Three" U.S. auto companies closed all plants in late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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A United Auto Workers source told FOX Business that the workers who may return soon "are not UAW members but salaried employees" and that UAW skilled trades workers would return only as paid volunteers.

Employees install components on a General Motors Co. Buick Enclave vehicle on the assembly line at the company's Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant in Lansing, Michigan, on Feb. 21, 2020. (Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A GM alert to workers obtained by the Detroit Free Press says a "small group of people" may be called into work to support GM's "restart planning" as soon as next week, starting April 27.

"Although we have not locked in a firm restart date, we have been meeting with government officials, sharing our safety protocols with the UAW, verifying that suppliers can support our plans and ensuring we have the right resources and safety equipment for our plant," the alert said, according to the Free Press.

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GM started using a facility for ventilator production under a $490 million federal contract in mid-April. Another facility is making masks.

General Motors and Ventec Life Systems are partnering to convert the GM Kokomo, Indiana ERC building for the production of Ventec ventilators in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Credit: GM)

The company plans to produce 30,000 ventilators for the Strategic National Stockpile by the end of August because President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act in March after criticizing the automaker's efforts.

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"We remain dedicated to working with the Administration to ensure American innovation and manufacturing meet the needs of the country during this global pandemic," GM said in a statement at the time.

Global vehicle production is expected to drop nearly 20 percent in 2021, Reuters reported on Monday. Analytics company JD Power estimated that auto sales fell 55 percent from pre-COVID-19 estimates to the first half of April.

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Grady Trimble and Jason Racki contributed to this report.