Call to Order and Roll Call
The2nd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Labor and Industry was held on Thursday, August 19, 2010, at 11:00 AM, at the Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Representative Rick G. Nelson, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Representative Rick G. Nelson, Co-Chair; Senators Julian M. Carroll, Julie Denton, Denise Harper Angel, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Will Coursey, C. B. Embry Jr., Bill Farmer, Tim Firkins, Charlie Hoffman, Dennis Horlander, Thomas Kerr, Adam Koenig, Charles Miller, Terry Mills, Tom Riner, Charles Siler, Jim Stewart III, and Brent Yonts.
Guests: David Tatman, Plant Manager, Corvette Assembly Plant; other plant officials; Representative Jody Richards.
Representative Nelson chaired the meeting and announced that Senator Kerr, co-chair, was unable to attend.
Corvette Assembly Plant
The meeting was held at the Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green. The agenda included a discussion of HB 104 by Rep. Jody Richards and a presentation from Mr. David Tatman, plant manager of the assembly plant. The meeting concluded with a tour of the assembly plant.
Representative Richards commented on the importance of the assembly plant to the state and especially to Bowling Green and expressed appreciation to the members of the General Assembly for enacting HB 104 which designated the Corvette as the official sports car of Kentucky. Representative Richards introduced the new plant manager, David Tatman, and other officials including Eric Henning, Regional Manager from Detroit; Andrea Hales, Communications Manager at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant; managers of various aspects of the Corvette production process; and representatives of the United Auto Workers (UAW).
Mr. Tatman said he had been the plant manager for 4 days. He provided an overview of General Motors (GM) and its difficulties during 2009 before discussing the Bowling Green Assembly Plant. He commented on the difficulties experienced by General Motors (GM) during 2009, including the bankruptcy of the company that lasted forty days. He said the company has restructured, retooled, discontinued 4 brands (Saturn, Hummer, Pontiac, and Saab) and is now in a better position, financially and competitively, for the future. GM has added 9100 jobs since its bankruptcy in 2009.
According to third party automotive sources, GM is closing the gap with its competitors in terms of quality. Since 2007, GM has decreased warranty repairs by 45% which translates to approximately $2 billion in savings to the company. GM provides a five-year, 100,000 mile warranty that transfers with the vehicle.
Mr. Tatman said GM is continuing to focus on its brands. The Chevrolet is the worldwide signature brand of GM. Buick is becoming the trademark for affordable elegance and maintains a high market presence worldwide. GMC is probably the best well-defined GM brand and is the truck of choice for professional grade workers. Cadillac is returning to its former elegance and stature and continues to have some of the highest level of buyer loyalty of any brand in the world. The Chevy Volt, available later this year, is GM’s highly touted new brand and is receiving very positive reports.
The Corvette Assembly plant in Bowling Green produces four Corvette models, Coupe, Grand Sport, Z06, and ZR1. Approximately 1.5 million Corvettes have been produced between 1953 and 2009. The plant is approximately 1 million square feet and all production is done in one shift per day. The workweek consists of four 10-hour shifts.
Approximately 480 workers are employed at the Corvette plant, which is about half the number employed in previous years. The Corvette assembly plant produces eight vehicles per hour. Three suppliers in Bowling Green and eighteen in the state support the assembly plant.
Over 1.3 million visitors have toured the plant during the past twenty-nine years. The plant partners with Western Kentucky University. Students conduct tours of the plant and many are employed in various aspects of the operations relevant to their majors. The Corvette plant tours combined with the tourists visiting the National Corvette Museum have produced an economic impact of over $200 million since the plant opened in Bowling Green.
Responding to questions from the committee, Mr. Tatman and other officials stated that GM is still the industry leader in the number of dealerships, including 1800 in rural areas, even though many have closed during the past year. China is the largest automotive market in the world and GM has the largest share of the China automotive market. Buick is the one of the most popular vehicles in China.
Following the meeting, members toured the assembly plant.