As concerns over the global COVID-19 (or Coronavirus) crisis continues, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union have agreed to suspend production of the 2020 Ram 1500 at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP) after an employee has tested positive with the virus. This comes only hours after the UAW and officials from Detroit’s “Big-Three” met Tuesday night, about how to continue production amid the pandemic.
“Out of an abundance of caution for the health and welfare of the employees at the (SHAP), FCA is suspending production on Wednesday, March 18th. Employees on the first shift have been sent home. Workers on the second shift should not report. The company is working to align the plant’s shift pattern with yesterday’s announced agreement with the UAW. Further information regarding the resumption of operations will be shared later today,” according to a statement from FCA.
The decision comes only a couple of days after employees from both the Windsor Assembly Plant – which builds the Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler Voyager, and Dodge Grand Caravan and the Warren Truck Assembly Plant – which assembles the 2020 Ram 1500 Classic had employees walk off the job after growing concerns. One person from the Windsor plant had been placed in self-quarantine after being exposed to someone with the virus, although no confirmed cases have been reported by the facility.
The Warren Truck plant has yet to have anyone confirmed with the virus as well. Only the Windsor walk-off, stopped production for a few hours this week. Production of the Ram 1500 Classic continued as scheduled.
The company says the employee has not been at the plant for over a week and is receiving medical care. FCA says employees who may have had contact with the worker have been contacted and instructed to self-quarantine for two weeks. The SHAP facility will undergo a thorough cleaning in the meantime.
FCA and UAW employees at other assembly plants are continuing to follow the newly agreed rules put forth from the UAW/GM/Ford/FCA task force that has been created during this hectic time. Those rules include…
- Separating working shifts by a minimum of a one-hour at most U.S. assembly plants.
- Staggering breaks and lunches to increase the distance between people.
- Arranging seating in the cafeterias and break areas to guarantee proper distance.
- Increasing housekeeping services in cafeterias, bathrooms, and other high traffic, high use areas, including frequent touchpoints.
- Providing materials – spray bottles with disinfectant, rags, and gloves – to employees to conduct cleaning and disinfecting protocols at the start and end of each shift.
- Offering gloves in certain areas.
- Conducting safety talks and specific training as well as using signage and broadcasts through Andon boards to remind employees of proper preventative protocols.
- Installing partitions between workstations at some powertrain facilities.
- Restricting domestic and international travel.
- Restricting visitors at all FCA facilities.
Following his visits yesterday to multiple company facilities across southeast Michigan, FCA CEO Mike Manley commented: “I spent time today with a number of our employees in our assembly and stamping plants. I wanted to see for myself how we are implementing our new cleaning and workplace protocols, and be assured that we are putting their welfare first as we continue to support the effort to arrest the spread of this virus. Ultimately this will pass, and when it does, it is important to me that we can say we worked hard with our UAW partners to provide the safest work environment for our people.”