Detroit’s automakers and the United Auto Workers reached an agreement to loosen the mask mandate used to protect workers from the spread of COVID-19.
The mandates were put in place in the spring of 2020 as the pandemic gained momentum and the industry struggled to resume production.
“After reviewing new data from health and medical experts as well as changes to state policies, the COVID-19 Joint Task Force, comprised of the UAW, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, has decided to remove the mask mandate for those in the United States who have been fully vaccinated beginning July 12,” according to a statement released by the union.
Vaccinated workers can drop masks
Brian Rothenberg, UAW communications director, said since there is no vaccination mandate, employees will not have to show they have been proof of vaccination. “It will be an honor system,” he said.
Other parts of the safety protocols, such as social distancing, will be removed on a plant and by plant basis. Cleaning of workstations will also be largely voluntary.
The UAW, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis will also continue to comply with all state, county and city regulations where they operate facilities.
The COVID-19 Task Force — set up in March of 2020 — met this week and reviewed the reports of medical experts, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards to maintain safety as the companies continue to work through the pandemic.
Fully vaccinated workers will no longer be required to wear a mask, although they may choose to do so. However, those who have not been vaccinated must continue to wear a face mask. The task force will continue to monitor data carefully and make any adjustments necessary to protect the health and safety of employees, according to the statement.
Vaccinations still encouraged
“While the UAW and the companies continue following the protocols that have kept our workplaces safe, we know that one of the best ways to fight this virus is by getting vaccinated,” the union said in the release.
“The task force continues to encourage everyone to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated against COVID-19 so that we can protect our sisters and brothers and their families.”
By and large, the protocols did keep workers safe, although UAW members did die during the pandemic. But so far none of the fatal cases involving workers were traced back to transmission in the various plants operated by the three automakers.