All 300 of the temporary workers Saturn Corp. put on the permanent payroll Feb. 1 choose to join the United Auto workers union, says Michael Bennett, president of UAW Local 1853 in Spring Hill, TN.
"They've all signed cards as far as I know," Mr. Bennett says. "We tried to treat them as full members of this union. I think they appreciated that the UAW supported the decision to begin local hiring."
Because Tennessee is a right-to-work state workers are free not to join a million. For the first time in its 10-year history Saturn hired about 300 temporary workers from communities surrounding the plant. Prior to that, all Saturn workers had come from anotherCorp. location. That was a key provision of Saturn's innovative labor agreement.
But it has been a sore point with local officials in Maury County, TN.
While Local 1853 has seen more than its share of factional squabbling over Saturn's rotating schedules and the way team leaders are chosen, Mr. Bennett says only 11 of its 7,300 members have ever asked to withdraw from the union, and three of those later changed their minds.
Mr. Bennett estimates that Saturn will hire between 400 and 600 more people from Middle Tennessee over the next two years. About 100 current team members are expected to retire over that period. Another 700 have asked to transfer to other GM factories, and, based on the record of previous transfer requests, Mr. Bennett says about half of those will be granted.