Smoke Pot? GM Might Hire You

Yes, GM might hire you if you smoke marijuana, but not because you smoke it. Right now GM is desperate for new hires as fill-ins for assembly line workers taking off for summer vacations. Both its Flint, Michigan, and Fort Wayne, Indiana, assembly plants are where it builds pickup trucks. It needs 450 temporary hires at Flint, and 275 at Fort Wayne.

GM doesn’t hire pot smokers

GM Flint truck assembly
People work on a Chevy pickup truck on the assembly line of the General Motors Flint Assembly Plant | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

But it doesn’t hire pot smokers. Potential hires are tested for marijuana use. If you test positive your application ends up in the circular file. But now the Detroit Free Press says changes could be afoot. 

UAW shop Chairmen, Eric Welter and Rich LeTourneau told the Freep GM’s pot policy is causing it to miss hiring opportunities. That maybe it is time to revisit the idea. Especially, since marijuana is legal in Michigan. 

In Indiana, marijuana possession means jail time

GM truck assembly at Flint, Michigan
Line workers work on the chassis of full-size General Motors pickup trucks at the Flint Assembly plant | JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images

Indiana is a different story. Possession of any amount of marijuana means jail time. So, while a change in policy might make sense at Flint, Fort Wayne might be a different story. When GM was approached about the policy change spokesperson Dan Flores would only say that the subject has been “discussed internally.”

The Flint UAW Local 598 has over 5,100 GM hourly workers as members. Though turnover isn’t high, the Silverado and Sierra plant needs about 100 temporary hires a week. But it is getting harder and harder to find good applicants. It is lucky to find 20-25 to fill those 100 openings. 

GM uses hair specimens to trace marijuana. It can show up weeks after inhaling pot. Welter says that it deters especially younger people from even applying for jobs at the plant. But there are other deterrents.

GM’s $16.67 starting pay may also be a reason applicants are few

GM truck assembly at Flint, Michigan
Workers inspect General Motors Co. (GM) Chevrolet 2019 Silverado HD and 2019 GMC Sierra HD pickup trucks on the assembly line at the GM plant in Flint, Michigan | Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images 

The $16.67 starting hourly wage is only slightly above McDonald’s starting pay. And applicants have to agree to work a variety of shifts. Plus, there is no guarantee of full-time employment after the summer. 

Unfortunately, GM is facing other problems that are slowing down pickup truck production. Issues with parts suppliers and of course, the semiconductor chip shortage is creating havoc. GM is already eliminating cylinder deactivation fuel management because of the lack of chips. 

What about at Ford?

GM truck assembly
A person in a cowboy hat works on building a Chevy pickup truck on the assembly line of the General Motors Flint Assembly Plant | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Across town in Dearborn, Ford has holding lots full of completed 2021 Ford F-150 pickups waiting for chips to complete the otherwise finished trucks. It is a problem being faced by most auto manufacturers around the world. But the lack of available help does add to the problems all manufacturers are facing. 

If you live in or around Flint or Fort Wayne there was a time when hourly wages at the GM plants were very attractive. But with two-tiered wages now in effect, new hires are not attracted because of better-than-average pay.