While the new mid-engine Corvette Stingray has been an overwhelming hit around the world, the men and women who build the new C8 Corvette for Chevy are saying, don’t forget about us, we want more !
Overcoming just about every imaginable obstacle placed in their path, including a labor strike, global pandemic, supply-chain issues, and even a tornado, these workers have nevertheless managed to produce tens of thousands of 2020-22 Corvettes at the Bowling Green, Kentucky assembly plant.
Since 2019, however, members of UAW Local 2164 in Bowling Green have been operating without a local contract, and last week they sent a strong message to management by rejecting an offer they say still doesn’t address many of their ongoing concerns. In fact, 98 percent of Bowling Green production workers and 97 percent of its skilled trades workers turned down the offer from plant management.
“We pretty much knew what the outcome would be,” Jason Watson, shop chairman for Local 2164, told the Bowling Green Daily News.
“It’s disappointing that the company doesn’t take into consideration what the hourly workers are asking for in improvements.”
Those concerns include sanitation and health and safety, as well as a commitment from General Motors to use UAW members, when possible, for contracted tasks like 3-D printing, maintenance work, and striping.
Local 2164 President Brian Ferrett says outsourcing tasks to non-union workers is a big concern for union workers who have been transferred to Bowling Green after closure or downsizing of other GM plants.
With the eighth-generation Corvette earning significant accolades since beginning production in late 2019, Ferrett believes workers who actually assemble the car should benefit by receiving some guarantees about their future.
“We always request a guarantee, but it’s not there yet,” he said. “Over the last 20 years all GM has pushed for and achieved in most cases is for a third party to do our work at a lower wage.”
The union’s recent rejection of the latest offer holds no immediate ramifications, but Watson says a strike is not out of the question eventually if the issues can’t be resolved.
“Our membership has approved a strike authorization, but there is a process that must go through (UAW) Region 8 and the national union,” he said.
In the meanwhile, Watson says the union’s bargaining committee will continue to gather membership concerns as well as continue to have meetings with management and attempt to continue negotiations.
Enthusiasts should know that Corvette plant management is willing to continue these talks, as indicated in this statement:
“We are disappointed that UAW Local 2164 voted down the local contract.
We will continue to meet with the local union to understand the vote and will continue to negotiate.
Our goal is to reach an agreement that benefits employees and positions our business to be competitive as we move forward.”