Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced yesterday that the company has pushed back its original date of restarting its manufacturing facilities from Monday, April 13th, to Monday, May 4th. The new restart date would be for manufacturing operations for both the United States and Canada, with facilities in Mexico coming back online at a later date.
The news comes almost two months after FCA announced that it was temporarily suspending all production in North America, starting on March 18th. FCA joined the Ford Motor Company and General Motors (GM) shutting production down in the United States after the United Auto Workers (UAW) union voiced their concerns about safety for its members.
“During this current production pause, we are working with government officials and our unions to implement new procedures to certify the daily wellness of our workforce while also redesigning work stations to maintain proper social distancing and expanding the already extensive cleaning protocols at all locations. As a result of these actions, we will only restart operations with safe, secure and sanitized workplaces to protect all of our employees,” FCA released in a statement.
A lot of FCA’s operations revolve around Michigan and with Michiganders been issued a stay-at-home order since Tuesday, March 24, Governor Gritchen Whitmer said Monday, that she plans to extend the order, which is set to end on Easter Sunday. This could explain the decision to return to production in May.
Nearly, 800,000 have filed for unemployment benefits in Michigan since mid-March (a lot coming from the automotive industry), was the state has been one of the hardest-hit areas of the COVID-19 (or Coronavirus) during that time with 17,331 cases and 727 deaths, most of which are from the City of Detroit area and its surrounding suburbs.
Of Detroit’s “Big Three” automakers, FCA has the most COVID-19 related deaths, with 11 of its employees losing their lives during the pandemic. Ford Motor Company has had 6 deaths in its workforce diagnosed with the virus, while GM has had no confirmed cases as of yesterday. Both Ford Motor Company and GM have yet to release official restart dates.
FCA is adding additional requirements for its UAW workforce members when they return to work. “We’re also requiring employees to wear masks in addition to the gloves they previously wore. Employees also will be asked to complete a wellness self-assessment at home each day before reporting to work. This includes taking their temperature and answering five survey questions,” according to an email from FCA spokeswoman Jodi Tinson.
Yesterday, the @FiatChrysler_NA team at the Mopar Parts Distribution Center donated and shipped out approximately 500,000 face masks to emergency operation centers in Oakland and Wayne counties. This generosity will save lives, and I couldn’t be more grateful. pic.twitter.com/5JnZcLl3Pf
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) April 2, 2020
Last week, FCA’s Mopar Parts Distribution Centers (which have remained operational to supply the company’s dealer network with parts) donated a shipment of 500,000 face masks from one of the company’s facilities in the Metro Detroit area to emergency operations facilities across the Metro Detroit area. Governor Whitmer thanked the employees on her Twitter account, that day.