GM adds second shift at Kentucky plant

A General Motors employee works on the Corvette assembly line Thursday, April 25, 2019 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. GM announced today, the company is adding a second shift and more than 400 hourly jobs at the Bowling Green plant The second shift and additional jobs will support production of the Next Generation Corvette, which will be revealed on July 18. (Photo by Miranda Pederson for General Motors)

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — General Motors says it is adding a second shift and more than 400 hourly jobs at its Kentucky plant that produces the Chevrolet Corvette.

The increased production will support the company’s newest generation of its iconic sports car, which was first introduced in 1953.

GM says the new Corvette will be revealed July 18. The engine is being moved from under the hood to between the passenger compartment and rear wheels. Chevrolet says the new generation Corvette will be “the sum of each generation before it.”

Adding a second shift will increase the Bowling Green plant’s workforce to more than 1,300. The plant has built more than a million Corvettes since it opened in 1981.

The final Corvette from the current generation will be auctioned off for charity.

It is similar to the final Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze being auctioned off to benefit United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley. The last Cruze produced at the Lordstown facility originally was slated to head to a dealership in Florida, but Ed Muransky, CEO of the Muransky Companies, arranged a trade and purchased the car.

The latest timetable from General Motors of layoffs at its idled Chevrolet Cruze assembly plant has employees staying on until May 31. The date, contained in one of two mass layoff notices the automaker provided to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, will be the last day for 10 production employees, five skilled trades employees and 11 salaried employees.

The other notice shows shows 148 hourly employees and 59 salaried employees were to be laid off in waves starting April 1.

Most of the 1,607 hourly and salaried employees were laid off March 11, consistent with the notice GM filed in December, as the automaker idled the plant — the first of five in North America it intends to close as it shifts its focus toward trucks and SUVs and autonomous and electric vehicles.

The actual last day of production was March 6, when assembly finished on the last Cruze.

The newest notices, known as a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, were received by the state earlier this month.

One contained staggered layoff dates through April. Beginning April 1, 85 hourly and 46 salaried employees were to be laid off; beginning April 15, 24 hourly employees were to be laid off; and beginning Monday, 39 hourly employees and 13 salaried employees will be laid off.

Five hundred nineteen employees who volunteered to transfer after GM made the announcement in November already have been placed in GM plants elsewhere, according to GM spokesman Dan Flores. About 560 of the 1,500 GM employees who said they would go voluntarily are from Lordstown.

Whether the plant will remain closed or open with a new product will be determined when GM and United Auto Workers meet later this year to work out a new collective bargaining agreement. The contract expires Sept. 14.

There is a lawsuit in federal court in Youngstown to stop GM from idling the Lordstown plant and the two in Michigan — the Warren Transmission Plant in Warren, Mich., and Detroit-Hamtramck, which was set to close on June 1, but the company is keeping it open until January 2020 to continue production of the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6.

The UAW claims an agreement it has with GM bars GM from closing any plant during the course of the existing collective bargaining agreement that doesn’t expire until Sept. 14. GM said placing the plants on “unallocated” status does not violate the agreement.