WENTZVILLE, MO—General Motors is converting 100 temporary workers at its truck assembly plant here to permanent jobs as the automaker ramps up production at the facility.

The conversion comes in the wake of news that GM was using volunteer salaried employees on the assembly line at the Wentzville plant because of high absenteeism amid the coronavirus pandemic. The UAW objected to the use of salaried workers in union jobs, calling it a violation of its 2019 contract with the automaker and filing a grievance over the issue.

“The conversion [of temporary workers] at Wentzville is a direct result of our UAW members’ sacrifice during last year’s 40-day strike,” says UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg. “Through the path [we] ratified in our contract, UAW members have achieved a defined path to seniority status.”

Defining a pathway to permanent employment for temporary workers was a key issue among the 48,000 UAW members that went on strike against GM last fall. The starting wage at a GM plant for a temporary worker is $15.67 an hour, but that can rise to $32.32 if they become permanent.

“We are on-boarding transfers per the contract,” says GM spokesman Jim Cain. “And we continue to rely on salaried volunteers to help bridge gaps due to absenteeism.”

Wentzville runs three shifts with about 1,250 workers on each shift. GM says it has struggled to staff all three shifts since restarting the plant in late May, due to absenteeism as the pandemic has surged in the region.