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Graveyard shift returns to Flint, Michigan General Motors plant

Rock Center

In Flint, Michigan the graveyard shift has returned at a General Motors plant, adding 750 jobs and giving hope that the auto industry’s turnaround will be long lasting.

The return of the third shift is underway in cities across the country.  A Chrysler plant in Belvidere, Ill. recently announced plans to add a third shift by this summer.

Flint’s GM assembly plant has been emblematic of the rise and fall of one of America’s signature industries.  In its heyday, the city of Flint had 80,000 auto related jobs.  Today, there are just 7,000 auto related jobs.  Still, experts say the return of the third shift is boosting support industries and Flint’s local economy.

“The Flint Assembly plant and the heavy duty trucks here are a real economic indicator of where we’re going.  People are going back to work, companies are starting to buy pickup trucks for their businesses.  This is all great news,” said Joann Muller, Detroit bureau chief for Forbes who has spent 20 years covering the auto industry.  

NBC News correspondent Mike Taibbi talked to Dave Gray, Marcus Tyler and Anthony Pylant, all men who were 15 year veterans of General Motors when the plant they worked at in Spring Hill, Tenn. closed in 2009.  For the past two years, they were pining for work.  Then, they learned that the GM plant in Flint was adding a third shift.  They didn’t hesitate to pack up their things, leave their families and head to work.  The three men share an apartment and work in the middle of the night together.

“It's precious to me big time. I don’t take it for granted at all,” Pylant said.  “There's a million people across this nation who would swap spots with us in a heartbeat.”

Click here to watch Mike Taibbi's full report, 'The Graveyard Shift,' from NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams.