Facing increasing volume of complaints from workers ordered to stay on their jobs in manufacturing plants, the United Auto Workers, General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced they are forming a COVID-19/Coronavirus Task Force to study and implement enhanced protections for manufacturing and warehouse employees at all three companies.
UAW President Rory Gamble, GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, Ford Chairman Bill Ford, Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett and FCA CEO Michael Manley will lead the task force. They will be supported, the union said.
“Workplace health and safety is a priority for us every day, all three companies have been taking steps to keep the COVID-19/coronavirus out of their facilities and during this national emergency, we will do even more working together,” said the UAW’s Gamble, who convened the leaders of all three companies.
“We are focused on doing the right thing for our people, their families, our communities and the country. All options related to protecting against exposure to the virus are on the table,” he said.
In a joint statement, the CEOs of GM, Ford and FCA said, “This is a fluid and unprecedented situation, and the task force will move quickly to build on the wide-ranging preventive measures we have put in place. We are all coming together to help keep our workforces safe and healthy,” he said.
All three companies and the UAW are working to coordinate action to prevent the spread of COVID-19/coronavirus, including enhanced visitor screening, increased cleaning and sanitizing of common areas and touch points, and implementing safety protocols for people with potential exposure, as well as those who exhibit flu-like symptoms.
FCA has confirmed that one employee at a transmission plant in Kokomo, Indiana, has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
There have no other reports spreading into the factories of the Detroit, though there have been posts on social media suggesting the virus as spread deeper into the industry’s plants.
A shut down of auto manufacturing would be a staggering blow to the economy that would quickly ripple through the economy. The industry is on the verge having to shut more plants anyway, at least temporarily, because of declining sales.
Meanwhile, the joint task force’s areas of focus will include vehicle production plans, additional social distancing, break and cleaning schedules, health and safety education, health screening, food service and any other areas that have the potential to improve protections for employees. As the joint task force identifies enhancements, each company, together with the UAW, will provide regular updates to the workers in their facilities.