GM Might Have To Stop Testing For Pot To Find New Workers

Industry News / Comments

Many applicants are said to be put off by mandatory pot testing.

It's been a tricky year for General Motors as, like almost every other automaker, the company navigates the semiconductor chip shortage that forced production to stop in some cases. But there's another factor affecting production: a battle to find temporary employees to fill shifts at some of its assembly plants.

In an unusual solution to the issue, GM bosses are discussing a proposal to stop testing for marijuana use in an effort to attract otherwise qualified job applicants, especially younger individuals. In a rather blunt response, spokesman Dan Flores only said that it's "an issue that is being discussed internally".

2019-2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Front View Driving Chevrolet
2019-2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Front View Driving Chevrolet
2019-2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Rear View Driving Chevrolet

According to The Detroit Free Press, UAW Local 598 Shop Chairman Eric Welter noticed an issue at the GM Flint Assembly plant. His requirement was typically 100 temporary employees per week to cover 5,110 hourly workers. However, GM's staffing agency was only sending Welter between 22 and 25 people each week, saying that they couldn't find enough candidates.

If there are qualified candidates, it seems that many aren't willing to work for the $16.67 per hour that GM pays. Welter believes that raising the base pay to over $17 an hour and ending the marijuana testing could go a long way towards getting the number of temporary employees he needs. Rich LeTourneau, shop chairman at GM's Fort Wayne Assembly plant where the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 are built, is in agreement with Welter.

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"We're looking to hire temps like crazy, we just can't get them," said LeTourneau. "Nobody wants to come to work here."

Welter says that it's okay to test for marijuana - legal in 16 states - if there are enough candidates to choose from but since this hasn't been the case, he thinks that pot testing will scare off an already small group. "Marijuana doesn't create the problems that opioids, cocaine, and other drugs do," he said.

The existing extension of the unemployment benefit, whereby someone could make around $660 on unemployment, is another hurdle GM faces in finding temporary workers. It remains to be seen if GM will continue taking the, erm, high road, or if it will put Welter and LeTourneau's suggestions into practice.

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2019-2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Rear View Driving GMC
Source Credits: Detroit Free Press

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