ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Arlington’s General Motors plant will add another 800 jobs by the first quarter of 2013 to continue to meet production goals without demanding overtime of its shift workers, the Detroit-based automobile manufacturer announced Friday.
The addition of this so-called third shift boosts jobs at the facility by nearly 33 percent, bringing the number of hourly and salaried employees to 3,300.
“The third shift will enable Arlington Assembly to meet market demand for the current generation of full-size SUVs and provide relief for employees who have worked extensive overtime since the fourth quarter of 2009,” wrote spokeswoman Donna McLallen in a release.
The Arlington plant builds the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, the GMC Yukon and the Cadillac Escalade. McLallen said the plant made 270,000 vehicles in 2011.
While this added shift includes jobs in production, maintenance and engineering, North Texans may not be the first to fill them. The Shreveport GM plant is poised to close in September.
“Some of them very likely will end up here based on how our national agreement goes,” said Paul Graham, GM Arlington’s plant manager.
The company does expect some new hires, but it will be through a referral system.
McLallen said new “tooling and equipment” in the 2013 line of SUVs will “limit vehicle production” in 2013. So while “demand for full-size SUVS remains stable,” McLallen wrote, they’ll need the third shift to help overcome the new production requirements on the updated models.
“Based on economic uncertainty and gas price volatility, we took a prudent approach by relying extensively on overtime over the past few years,” said Larry Zahner, manufacturing manager for GM North America, in a prepared quote. “We see this segment stabilizing enough to add a third shift, reducing the cost and personal demand of overtime and providing us flexibility for possible increased demand as we introduce new trucks.”
GM was one of the participants of the 2009 federal bailout of the auto industry. In February, GM reported a record profit for 2011, making that year the first since 2004 that the three major American auto producers –– GM, Chrysler and Ford –– all made a profit.
When they announced this, CNN Money says GM made $7.6 billion in 2011, up from $4.6 billion in 2010. However, the company still owes U.S. taxpayers about $25 billion for the borrowed bailout money.
In the release, McLallen writes GM has pumped more than $7.1 billion into U.S. facility investments since 2009 and created or retained 18,600 jobs. The company also posted a $1 billion profit in the first quarter of 2012.
“Due to their efforts, a third shift will be added providing jobs for the Arlington community,” United Auto Workers spokesman Joe Ashton said in a prepared statement. “Congratulations to the Arlington team for a job well done.”
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton called the announcement a “tribute to the great work ethic and dedication of the employees and management at that plant,” echoing Ashton’s sentiment.
“They make quality products in an efficient way,” Barton wrote. “This is also a testament to the reemergence of GM as a power in the auto industry.”