The C8 Corvette Chassis Plant Is Still Up and Running

Despite stay-at-home orders, dozens of workers have been clocking in at GM’s Bedford, Indiana facility.

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The C8 Corvette Chassis Plant Is Still Up and Running © The C8 Corvette Chassis Plant Is Still Up and Running

Who exactly qualifies as an essential worker? Apparently, it depends on who you ask—and who you work for. As countless businesses, even automakers' massive factories, shut their doors, General Motors has kept a few of its production facilities active, the New York Times reports. In fact, workers in Bedford, Indiana have been clocking in despite stay-at-home orders, making chassis assemblies for the all-new Corvette C8

A GM spokesman confirmed to NYT that the factory has been running three shifts a day, each with about 20 workers, and said that the employees volunteered to return to work during the pandemic at their normal wage. That’s down from the normal shifts of 250 workers, but it's still a significant number of people when nearly everyone else is at home in some form of lockdown.

Late last year, Morgan Stanley projected the Corvette would bring in around two percent of General Motors’ revenue in 2020 and stated that the car would carry a profit margin of 16.5 percent. That adds up to $3.3 billion in revenues from the ‘Vette, but the question has to be asked: Is that important enough to keep people coming to work? It turns out that Bedford is just one of three General Motors facilities that have been in operation making vehicle-related parts. A plant in Arlington, Texas stayed open for 10 days to wrap up production of an outgoing SUV, likely the Suburban or Tahoe, and a facility in Lockport, New York is in operation making parts for servicing existing vehicles. Only Bedford has stayed open in some capacity since March when GM shuttered the majority of its manufacturing plants.

GM says the efforts will help reduce a chassis shortage and get Corvette production in Bowling Green back up and running more quickly once things cool off. Additionally, the plant has been checking employees' temperatures at the door while maintaining social distancing guidelines with workers wearing proper PPE. Even then, it’s hard to ignore the flak that other companies have taken—from us as well as others—over their decisions to keep running during the pandemic. Tesla was an early holdout, even when it became clear that the coronavirus was no joke, only closing its Fremont facility after losing a battle to have it classified as an essential business.

On Wednesday, GM announced that it planned to “restart the majority of manufacturing operations” on May 18. Meanwhile, the United Auto Workers union is staying an arm's length away when it comes to this decision.

“As for the start date, the companies contractually make that decision, and we all knew this day would come,” said UAW President Rory Gamble in a statement Wednesday.

Corvette production was slated to begin in December of last year, though the 40-day UAW strike put a kink in that plan. Models started rolling off the assembly line in February, though essentially all momentum was killed with various suppliers temporarily stopping operations along with GM's own facilities taking a forced break. Nonetheless, around 1,000 workers have been reporting to the General's Kokomo, Indiana plant to build ventilators for front-line medical personnel. 

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