Wentzville plant will build the Chevy Colorado | St. Louis Public Radio

Wentzville plant will build the Chevy Colorado

Nov 3, 2011

Updated 4:50  p.m. with comments from Nixon, company and union officials, and employees.

The General Motors plant in Wentzville, Mo. got some welcome news this morning.

A $380 million investment in the plant, negotiated into the latest contract between GM and the United Auto Workers, means the Chevrolet Colorado will be built at the St. Charles County plant beginning some time next year.

The expansion brings with it 1,260 jobs, and the plant will also add a second shift in January building the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans for an additional 400 jobs.

"Wentzville Assembly Center is a lot like the Cardinals," said Mike Bullock, the chairman of UAW 2250, which represents the workers at the plant. "We didn't give up either. When we lost the second shift in August 2009, [former 2250 president] Gary Style and myself, we made a pact, let's not give up. We didn't have a product past 2012, don't give up, we said. Now today I stand before you, one of the proudest moments in Wentzville's 28-year history, the result of not giving up."

The same tax credit that kept Ford at the Claycomo plant near Kansas City also brought about the GM expansion, said Gov. Jay Nixon.

"The vehicles of the future had to be built somewhere, and it was up to make sure that they were built right here in the Show-Me State," Nixon told the crowd of autoworkers who gathered near the center of the plant for the announcement. Afterward, he told reporters, "That was our strategy, that strategy succeeded, and the enxt strategy is to try and shorten the supplier lines so that we can add more jobs for more people in the area around these plants."

Nixon says in addition to the Missouri Manufacturing Jobs Act incentives, GM may qualify for two other tax credit programs, and he says he'll continue to evaluate the need for additional incentives.

Donna Hagan, who has worked at the Wentzville plant since 1985, said she's thrilled that she'll have 1,600 new co-workers.

"Lots of good job security is the main thing," she said. "Lots of kids coming out of college don't find jobs that are as good paying and have as good benefits as these do, and so we're real proud of that."

The jobs, however, are not guaranteed, said Cathy Clegg, GM's vice president of labor relations.

"Any vehicle that we launch and introduce into the market, we aren't the ones that guarantee that we'll be able to build it for any length of time," she told reporters after the event. "We have to serve a market and when there's market demand, that's what we work to."

The average autoworker at the Wentzville plant makes about $28 an hour.