SPRING HILL, Tenn. (AP) — The United Auto Workers leader in Spring Hill said restarting assembly at the General Motors Co. plant and creating some 1,700 new jobs two years after shutting it down shows the auto industry bailout was the right move and President Barack Obama deserves credit.
UAW Local 1853 President Mike O'Rourke said Wednesday there will be about 2,200 workers, including some who are already building GM engines at the former Saturn plant, and another 15,000 spinoff jobs in the surrounding Middle Tennessee region.
"Hey, that's pretty good news for the area," O'Rourke said.
He said the auto bailout saved 1 million jobs in the United States, and "hey, Obama was right."
In 2009, GM announced the shutdown of Spring Hill and laid off more than 2,000 workers. O'Rourke said the restart planned to begin next year is an "economic miracle."
GM., which went through bankruptcy, received $49.5 billion in the U.S. bailout.
GM has not said which cars will be built at the plant but the jobs are expected to be up and running sometime next year. A top GM executive said Wednesday that the Spring Hill plant will have maximum model flexibility when assembly is restarted.
The automaker has said it intends to reopen the plant with staffing and operating rules still being worked out with the union.
GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Amman said Wednesday the plant will have flexibility to make "distinctly different vehicles" and be ready to quickly adjust to changing market demand. Amman declined to give a date for the restart or say if there is a limit on entry-level workers.
The automaker has said it will invest $61 million for one midsize car and add 600 jobs, while it will spend $358 million on another midsize car with 1,100 jobs created.
Under the new contract, GM can have as many entry-level, $15-an-hour workers as it wants. Amman said after 2015 only 25 percent of the factory workers can be paid the lower wage.
O'Rourke said there will be entry-level workers at Spring Hill but laid off UAW workers will not be pushed aside.
"Nobody gets displaced," he said. "We will get our people who need to get called back called back."
He said more than 80 percent of the union's members voted Friday to approve the contract.