Less than a month after General Motors Co. said it had 2,700 transfer opportunities for the 2,800 United Auto Workers employees affected by pending plant idlings, 1,500 workers have volunteered to transfer and about 700 are already en route to new jobs in Michigan and Tennessee.

GM will shutter four U.S. plants this year, including Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, Warren Transmission, Baltimore Operations and Lordstown Assembly in northeast Ohio. The indefinite idling of these plants is part of a larger restructuring plan for the company that will also include cutting some 8,000 white-collar jobs as GM looks to save a total of $6 billion by 2020.

GM said in a statement Friday following its 2019 financial forecast that 850 Detroit-Hamtramck workers had volunteered to transfer and 418 had been placed. Another 560 employees in Lordstown volunteered for transfer and 285 have been placed. Warren Transmission saw 100 employees volunteer to transfer and Baltimore Operations saw 20, but as of Jan. 4 had not been placed.

"In November we announced several actions that we are taking to address these issues to reduce structural costs and to generate cash. These were difficult decision because they impacted people, and they impacted communities," CEO Mary Barra told investors Friday at the company's Capital Markets Day event. "We are taking these steps while the company is strong and the economy is strong and we believe that we have job opportunities for most of the hourly employees in the U.S."

The UAW did not immediately provide comment on GM's employee transfer update Friday, but the union has blasted the Detroit automaker's decision to idle four plants this year while it continues to build vehicles in Mexico. 

The union is also suing GM for the automaker's use of temporary workers at Fort Wayne Assembly, arguing that some 1,000 laid off GM-UAW workers are entitled to positions at the plant.

The transfer opportunities — which GM is required by contract with the UAW to offer laid off workers —  the decision to take the new positions is complicated for many workers.

"It's difficult for people to make these decisions because they don't know whether their home plants are really closing," said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research.

Twitter: @Nora Naughton


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