On Wednesday, General Motors announced that it would be making more than 1,350 of its temporary workers permanent, granting them more adequate health insurance, vacation time and pay in the process.
Of those roughly 1,350 employees, 157 of them work at the Spring Hill GM plant, and were reportedly “in tears” upon hearing the good news, according to Spring Hill United Auto Workers Chairman Mike Herron.
“It's a game changer for them, it's a game changer for their family, and I'm very proud that the management team here and in Detroit were able to rally around coming together to make these folks permanent,” Herron said. “Ultimately, these folks, [who] were really counting on becoming permanent, have done everything we've asked them to do; they've worked 12 hour days, they've given up a lot of time in events with their families... we're thrilled beyond belief that they were made permanent.”
One such temporary employee turned permanent was Robin Leavitt, a mother of four who’s worked at GM as a temporary worker since 2016. Leavitt said that earlier this week while at home, friends and coworkers began sending her text messages bearing the good news all at once — news, she said, was at first difficult to believe.
“I started hearing that we were going to make $21 an hour, and I went, 'I want to know what that feels like,”' Leavitt said. “When I first hired on, I was a single mom with two kids at home that I was trying to take care of, and this was a job that was carrying me through to it. I was wanting to get the vision and the dental where my kids could get braces and have all the regular stuff... and here it'll happen.”
But perhaps what Leavitt was most thrilled about was her newly found stability.
“It'll be nice to have the stability, to know that if I get sick, I can go to the doctor,” Leavitt said. “It's a different world... being a single mom, just riding on the razor's edge the whole time, you hope it all holds together and nothing goes wrong. Now, [I] just have that sense of, if something goes wrong, it's still OK.”
Herron spoke more to the morale boost he’d seen since the announcement, calling the transition to permanency for more than 150 Spring Hill workers "life-changing."
“You could just sense the morale build in the plant the minute that that announcement was made,” Herron said. “I mean, tears — they were in tears and they were crying about the event that they were made permanent. It's a big deal, and I applaud General Motors for doing the right thing... it changed their lives forever.”
Temporary workers transitioning to permanent workers at Spring Hill — and the country at large — will see medical plan cost-share improvements, the addition of dental and vision coverage, company contributions into their 401(k), profit sharing, as well as life insurance coverage.
“I don't know what it is to be any different than just coming to work everyday, but now I'm looking forward to the, 'hey, I can take a vacation with my family,'” Leavitt said. “All those regular things that weren't in my wheelhouse before will hopefully be in my wheelhouse [now].”