BOWLING GREEN -- Even as it continues to hire temporary workers in preparation for adding a second shift next month, Bowling Green's General Motors Corvette Assembly Plant is transitioning nearly 60 hourly workers from temporary to full time.

Detroit-based GM made the announcement Wednesday that more than 1,350 temporary workers at 14 of its U.S. facilities will shift to full-time positions before the end of March. Fifty-seven of those are at the Bowling Green plant, according to United Auto Workers Local 2164 President Jack Bowers.

The announcement aligns with language about temporary workers in the four-year contract the UAW reached with GM in October after a nationwide 40-day strike.

"This is basically what we went on strike for," Bowers said. "Some of them (temporary workers) have been here three or four years. This is definitely a big improvement for them."

The transition from temporary to full time means a bump in pay from around $17 per hour to $21 to $24 an hour and a significant improvement in benefits such as health care, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press. As full-timers, those employees are also in line to reach the top wage level of $32.32 per hour by the end of the current contract.

The status change of the 57 workers is only part of the positive news for the Bowling Green plant these days. The plant has been bringing in new workers, many of them transferring from GM's Lordstown, Ohio, plant that closed last year, and Nora Roper, the Corvette plant's assistant plant manager, said employment at the local plant has grown from about 900 to around 1,300 hourly and salaried workers.

That boost in employment was announced last April, when GM CEO Mary Barra came to Bowling Green to reveal plans to add 400 workers and a second shift as the plant made the transition from making the seventh-generation Corvette to producing the revolutionary mid-engine C8.

Full production of the 2020 Corvette hasn't started yet, but the car has already garnered North American Car of the Year and other honors for its unique design and performance.

Roper said the strike "basically added six weeks to our plan," but she said full production will begin soon. The plant's employees have been going through training on production of the new model, and the second shift will be added in February.

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