Since being founded in 1908 by William C. Durant, GM has become an icon. The company's five brands that originally included Oldsmobile, Oakland (Pontiac), Cadillac, Buick, and Rapid Motor Vehicle Company (which later became GMC) all offered something different to the consumers. This was an ideal that William strived for as he believed there should be different kinds of cars for a different kind of people, opposing Henry Ford's ideal to seemingly try to fit everyone in a Model T that was famous for coming "in any color as long as it's black."
William held the company until 1911, when he was forced out. William would not return until he bought a majority share of GM in 1916, this time bringing his new company, Chevrolet, with him. He was forced out again in 1920, never to return to GM. Through the next 100 years, we have seen GM take on more auto manufactures but also shed some iconic ones along the way, as well.
GM has risen to a superpower in the automotive world with multiple companies under its belt, including Holden in Australia, Vauxhall/Opel in the UK, and SAIC-GM (formally Shanghai GM) in China. GM is a world superpower and has become such with strict policies and regulations that came from years of change and refinement in the face of adversity from its workers. From the first strike in 1936, which got GM to pay attention to the UAW, to today's technologically centered world, GM has created policies to promote safety and good work ethic among its workers. We've sifted through some of these policies and have picked out some of the weirdest rules GM employees have to follow.
18 No Smartphones Allowed
Claimed to be for safety concerns, you aren't allowed to have a smartphone out and in your hand at any time on GM property. This makes sense because people have enough trouble walking down a sidewalk without bumping into someone, though another reason for the rule that's not as widely publicized is that GM doesn't want people accidentally exposing private information that could potentially be found and exploited by a competing company, such as their long-time rivals over at Ford.
Though it's not usually wise to post about work on the internet because it's usually nothing good, GM seems to embrace it with its own hashtags #IWORKFORGM and #IWORKWITHGM. It does say in the Social Media Policy that if you speak about work, what you say will affect your job—but they tell you to be accurate, as well. This leaves it wide open for anyone to make or break their reputation at work, so it's probably just best for employees to keep those thoughts to themselves.
16 Can't Recommend Anybody
GM employees can't write recommendations for anyone, giving total control to GM's management to hire whomever they want seemingly without bias. This also counts for companies who might seek to work with GM, as they can't be recommended in any form (even on social media) by a GM employee. This is quite tactical because it leaves GM's management at the helm of choosing hirees and they can't be influenced by anyone. At the same time, it can play the favoritism game when they seem to be hiring only those that know the right people and can get influence within the company without official recommendations.
15 Can't Invest In Certain Companies
For those that play the numbers game, it's important to remember that when you work for GM, you can only invest in the companies that have no direct influence with GM itself. So the companies that work along with GM, like Bridgestone Corp. and such, are off limits, as well as any company that directly competes with GM, like Ford, as that is a borderline betrayal against the very company that's given you a job. And yet, you have free reign to invest in a company that makes custom wood furnishings (unless they become involved with GM, in which case, you'll have to sell your shares, even at a loss).
14 Limits On Where You Can Use Your GM Learned Skills
Being hired by GM could be quite the learning experience, whether you work in the offices or get down and dirty in the factories. It's when you stop working that this policy takes effect, though. Anything that is learned on the job can't be used to start your own business, as this may cause competition against GM and of course, they can't have that. Also, this policy squashes any prospect of someone trying to make a career by going out on their own using the very same skills that GM has paid them to master.
13 GM Family First Doesn't Allow Base Models
The GM Family First program is meant to get its full-time employees inside a GM product at a discount. With it, you or select members of your family can have just about any GM product offered, from the Cruze to the Corvette. The strangeness lies in the fact that you cannot buy any of these cars in the base model. Instead of the base LS trim, anyone applying will have to settle for anything better than the LT trim, which can run a few thousand dollars more than LS. I couldn't find an answer as to why this is the way it is on the official website, but we can assume it's so they can save the base models for their paying customers.
12 Can't Get A ZR1 Either
When applying to use the “Family First” program, I mentioned you can't buy base model cars but this applies to all cars except for the Corvette. If you want a Corvette, you can have either the base or the Z06—but you cannot buy a top of the line ZR1. The reason for this is beyond us, as we picture a proud GM employee that wants to show their patronage to GM by buying the best GM can offer. Unfortunately for our GM lover, however, they'll have to do it on their own, without the discount given by GM.
11 Nothing Can Compete With The Corvette
This isn't so much as a policy as it's a rule that has been enforced by GM time and time again. A good example of this enforcement was with the Pontiac Banshee, a sports car created by the muscle-head John Z. DeLorean, the same man that created the GTO. The Banshee was to be a machine built with sleek lines and speed in mind. Utilizing a straight-six instead of a V8 like the Corvette had, he created a car that was just as powerful and lighter than the Corvette. When GM had caught wind of it, they asked John to discontinue his work on the concept after producing only two prototypes.
10 "Dress Appropriately" Dress Code
Chief Executive Mary Barra replaced the companies previous 10-page dress code to merely two-words: Dress Appropriately. It's been argued how open-ended the new rule is and how people could take advantage of it. Barra argues that if those people can't handle dressing appropriately, then what other decisions are they going to have trouble with? Barra not only used the dress code to make sure people are serious about their jobs but to make sure the right people are hired and are to be taken seriously.
9 Unlimited Sick Time
A full-time GM employee has a lot of benefits, including schooling assistance and adoption assistance. Of these is a benefit when it comes to sick days: having an unlimited amount of them. We're sure there is more to it than just that, but employees do not have to worry about the number of sick days they take. Hopefully, this takes some stress off of them and may help them get better quicker. Also, this helps to promote a clean and healthy work environment free of diseases that could spread and infect more people than it would if the person who was sick first just stayed home.
8 Mandatory Addiction Testing (And What Happens Afterward)
GM has mandatory testing for addiction, along with just about every other factory job out there. If the test comes back positive, the employee is deferred from working and has to straighten out before the next test. Testing continues every three months until the person recovers or until it has been a year, after which they are fired. Both Ford and Chrysler have counseling and hospitalization assistance for such addicts, but GM doesn't have these benefits and expects you to get out of it how they assume you got into it: on your own.
7 69 No-No Words
People that work at GM are forbidden to not use certain words that often contribute with sore subjects or subjects of disaster. Such words that are of particular mention are ones like Corvair, ghastly, Kevorkianesque, Titanic, Cobain, Hindenburg, and words and phrases with a biblical connotation. These words, among many others, were released as part of a training session that was put in place as a part of GM's $35 million fine when they didn't respond to the ignition flaws, which had revealed a bad thought process among its working class of laborers and engineers. Engineers are told to report things in a different manner in case their reports somehow get into the public eye and potentially cause damage to GM's reputation.
6 No In-House Competition
In the beginning, when the companies were clearly divided up, Chevrolet started off at the bottom and was made to start people off buying GM products, then customers went to Pontiac. From there, you went to Oldsmobile then to Buick, before ending up at the top of the line with Cadillac. Alfred P. Sloan Jr. (who was president of GM in 1923) came up with this distinction to try and attract “GM-for-life” customers. Since then, the idea has stuck well, until recently, when prices of cars began to fall and rise into each other's brackets, causing confusion among buyers and competition within GM. This confusion caused GM to close down its Oldsmobile division because it was becoming suffocated by the other companies, causing it to become obsolete. The loss of this idea ultimately led Pontiac down the same road less than a decade later.
5 GM Only Parking
A General Motors plant in Ontario, Canada, has made its main parking lot a strictly GM brand zone, sending anyone with rival makes to a smaller side-lot. This is supposed to be a show of pride among the workers as they drive and build GM but the policy makes it tough on the workers who are perfectly happy in a Honda or a Ford. From what we could find, this sense of pride doesn't only apply to the Ontario plant but to other plants, as well, and has been listed as a perk of working for GM.
4 Gloves Are A Must
This is sensible in any factory because gloves are to be provided and cared for by the company to help protect the workers against injury. GM was unionized in 1936 when the UAW helped organize a sit-down strike in Flint, Michigan, to get GM to better care for its workers. After a couple of months and multiple plant strikes, GM agreed to negotiations with the union. Since then, GM has been responsible for how the workers are to be taken care of and the UAW is there to ensure things are to be taken care of. At least, that's how it works on paper.
3 Cannot Be Disciplined Without Proper Explanation
A dispute between the UAW and GM caused 260,000 people across 89 GM plants to walk out of their jobs in September of 1964. The union's president at the time, Walter P. Reuther, had stated that the company refused to improve working conditions to “meet the minimum standards of human decency.” Among negotiations for a better work environment within GM was the “demand that the company provides an immediate explanation each time a worker was disciplined.” This means no one could be regulated without good reasoning for doing so.
2 Water To Be Available At All Times
Whether by water fountains or bottles, water is to be on the premises and available to the workers. With that said, this leaves things wide open as there doesn't seem to be a policy on the quality of water that should be given to the workers (like Ford uses). From our research, we've found the bottled water was only to be supplied to the workers if it was above 90 degrees outside—if there was any bottled water at all—otherwise, all people have are the fountains, which we can only assume puts out cold and clean water.
1 No Company Sponsored Racecars
This rule has obviously been lifted, as the Corvette continues to compete in the GT class of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Back in the days pre-dating the original Stingray, GM was being pressured by the U.S. Government to withdraw support in motorsports. This was due to the popularity of GM during the early 1960s, as they had taken up nearly 53% of total automotive sales in the US. If this number had reached 60% or more, GM faced the potentiality of being broken up into different companies. One of the ways GM cut growth was to make a policy that cuts support for any motorsport.
Sources: NYTimes, FastCompany.com, CNBC.com, BellPerformance.com