Detroit’s Big-Three automakers are ready to go back to work. North American operations for General Motors (GM), Ford Motor Company, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) have been shut down since March 18th. The media has reported that FCA would startup operations at certain plants starting May 4th, however, the United Auto Workers (UAW) has spoken out against restarting the plants next month.
With the Detroit area being one of the hardest-hit areas of COVID-19 (or Coronavirus) cases, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended her stay-at-home order for the state on Friday morning. Michigan, currently has the third most deaths contributing to the virus in the country. The UAW President Rory L. Gamble, on the other hand, is following Whitmer’s lead and released the following statement on Friday evening…
My Sisters and Brothers,
As we come together at the end of another week, I want to talk a little about what you may have seen in the news and in my messages over these past few days. What is dominating the news cycles, the stock market, our state and local governments and all of our conversations across all sectors is how do we stay safe as we plan for a restart of our economy.
And I know, my brothers and sisters, that this is at the forefront of your thoughts and your concerns. When will I go back to work and what will happen?
Now I don’t claim to have a crystal ball and these are truly unprecedented times, but I do know — and the experts have been very clear on this — that if we restart too early, it will be calamitous for all of us. For me, it comes down to one simple question. It’s the same question that I asked when we demanded that the Big 3 and others close production last month. Will our members be safe? If the answer is ‘No’, then our course is clear.
And so this week, I asked that question again of all of our companies in all of our sectors. I know truckers and others doing essential services are being asked back to work. But these decisions cannot be dictated by economics or stock prices or market conditions. They must be dictated by science and the safety of our working men and women. And based on that, which is the only criteria the International Executive Board and I are using, I feel the scientific data is not conclusive at this point and it is too risky for our members, their families and our communities to support a quick return to work in early May.
We must get this right. The stakes, in human lives and suffering, are simply too high. Experts have told us that there is not enough testing to understand the threat our members will face when they return to work. We must be confident that we have the scientific data to ensure that we have health protocols and enhanced protections in place before one single UAW member steps back into their worksite.
I will have more on this next week, as we are continuing to work with companies across all sectors for each and every one of our members. The decision to restart production contractually rests with the companies. However, we will continue to maintain a zero tolerance position as it relates to the health and safety of our members and do all that we can to ensure their safety. We will stay the course and be vigilant about what we expect in terms of health and safety and responsible re-opening of this economy based on science and experts.
As with so many of my messages, I have sad news to report. We have lost a 30-year member of UAW local 379 from Jacobs Vehicle Systems in Bloomfield, Connecticut. Our heartfelt sympathies go to the family and friends.
I urge you again to stay safe, continue to support one another and adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV. For more updates and questions that you may have about your worksite, visit https://uaw.org/coronavirus/.
We are all in this together.
Rory L. Gamble
While FCA continues to be the hardest hit of Detroit’s Big-Three automakers, the company along with GM and Ford are putting together extensive plans to resume production. According to our sources from within FCA, we were told about the company’s plans in detail about restarting operations at certain plants on May 4th, while others would restart on May 18th.
The plan included the following steps.
- To ensure the safety of its employees, FCA would be sending temperature strips home with its employees to check their temperature before coming into work.
- Upon arrival to any of the company’s facilities, employees would walk through a thermal scanner to check for normal or abnormal body temperatures, and/or be scanned by an infrared thermometer before going through a confirmation process before entering.
- Each worker would have to wear surgical masks and nitrile gloves on top of their normal safety gear, which would be provided by the company.
- During the first ten minutes and the last ten minutes of each shift, the employee would be required to disinfect their work station.
- Designated break areas have been separated, and some have even had divider walls installed to ensure social distancing at all times.
- FCA also had some certain areas of the lines, re-engineered using special prop tools and weld curtains to allow social distancing of 1 meter.
- The original plan was to restart the plants with one-shift patterns and then eventually adding shifts.
Certain FCA assembly plants are already operational in China and with Mexico operations starting up this week for Saltillo Van (Ram ProMaster) and Saltillo Truck (Ram Heavy Duty). The other Mexico plant in Toluca (Jeep Compass/Dodge Journey) is expected to restart on May 18th. The original plant startup schedule for North America included the following…
(Proposed May 4th Startup Dates):
- Jefferson North Assembly Plant (JNAP) – Jeep Grand Cherokee/Dodge Durango
- Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP) – Ram 1500
- Toledo North Assembly Plant – Jeep Wrangler/Wrangler Unlimited
- Warren Truck Assembly Plant – Ram 1500 Classic
(Proposed May 18th Startup Dates):
- Belvidere Assembly Plant – Jeep Cherokee
- Toledo South Assembly Plant – Jeep Gladiator
(Proposed May 4th Startup Dates):
Brampton Assembly Plant – Dodge Charger/Dodge Challenger/Chrysler 300 Series
(Proposed May 18th Startup Dates):
Windsor Assembly Plant – Chrysler Voyager/Chrysler Pacifica/Dodge Grand Caravan
Detroit’s Big-Three and the UAW confirmed earlier this week that they’ve begun talks on how toin a safe manner. However, it doesn’t seem like FCA’s original plans to restart operation will happen as the company had hoped.
Suppliers are eager to get back to work as well, as areas like Michigan and Ontario have hit all-time record highs of people filing for unemployment. Unemployment now affects over 20% of Michigan workers with some of the Metro Detroit area (the area with vast automotive suppliers) having unemployment rates as high as 30%.
Stay tuned to MoparInsiders.com, as we continue to follow the restart of production across FCA.