GM to add or keep 4,000 jobs in US

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by JOHN SEEWER

Associated Press

Posted on May 10, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 10 at 8:35 PM

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — General Motors is putting out help wanted signs.

GM said Tuesday that it will add 4,000 jobs in the U.S. by hiring new employees or calling back furloughed workers over the next year and a half. It's the latest sign that that the company and U.S. car industry are recovering from a sales slump and bankruptcies.

GM will spend $2 billion at 17 plants in eight states to create the new work. Most of the investment will be in the Midwest. Beyond that, few details were released about where the jobs will land.

Officials in Arlington have offered tax incentives for the automaker to expand its assembly plant in North Texas, a move that would add jobs at the facility.

It's also not clear how many of the positions will be new ones. Many will be existing jobs retained with the introduction of new cars and trucks. The automaker will announce over the next few months which plants are getting new investments.

GM spokeswoman Kimberly Carpenter said the company has about 1,300 laid off workers waiting to be recalled in the U.S. GM expects to recall all of them by the end of the year and already is adding workers at factories in Flint, Mich., Orion Township, Mich., and Delta Township, Mich., near Lansing, she said.

The news is sure to boost GM's image after it came under fire for taking a $50 billion government bailout.

"Those jobs impact and reverberate in our economy," said GM CEO Dan Akerson, who spoke at a transmission plant in Toledo, where up to 400 new workers will be hired.

All the jobs will be in addition to 9,500 created or retained since GM left bankruptcy protection in 2009.

Akerson said he's confident about the economy and demand for new cars, especially fuel-efficient models that have helped GM's sales. General Motors Co. reported its best profit in more than a decade last week, earning $3.2 billion in the first quarter.

In Toledo, workers wearing red T-shirts saying "Support us We support you" stood and cheered when Akerson said GM will build a new eight-speed transmission at the plant.

The new transmissions will not replace the six-speed ones that the factory already makes for more than a dozen models, including the Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro and the Cadillac Escalade.

For Brad Cowell, 20, of Toledo, the timing couldn't be better. He's a temporary worker at the plant who was just called back from layoff this week to build transmissions for the fast selling Chevrolet Cruze compact.

The chance to stay on full-time will make him work harder, he said.

GM would not reveal which vehicle will get the new eight-speed transmissions that are designed to increase gas mileage by shifting into the most efficient gear.

Any new hires will be paid GM's entry-level wage of $14 per hour, about half the wages of a veteran union auto worker. The union agreed to the lower wages in contract concessions when GM was headed toward bankruptcy protection two years ago.

United Auto Workers Vice President Joe Ashton wouldn't say whether the union would be willing to take on even more low-tier paying jobs in the future, but he did indicate it's a possible.

"We're willing to discuss anything that creates jobs," he said. "That's what we're about."

Part of GM's investment includes about 250 jobs announced last week at a Kentucky plant that builds Corvettes.

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