- UAW leadership said in a letter to members that they are pressing for GM, Ford, and FCA to shut down U.S. factories for two weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in plants.
- This past Sunday, the UAW and the automakers announced the creation of a task force to prevent the spread of the virus in factories.
- The three automakers have not yet responded to the news.
The leadership of the United Auto Workers sent a letter to its members today saying they had requested that Ford, General Motors, and FCA shutdown their factories for two weeks as the threat of COVID-19 becomes more and more pervasive, as first reported by CNBC. The announcement comes just two days after the automakers formed a task force with the UAW to safeguard factory workers as the plants remain open.
“I want to be very transparent about what happened during our conversation Sunday with the Big 3,” UAW president Rory Gamble said in the letter to members. “The UAW leadership, based on the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations on how to protect ourselves and our communities, requested a two-week shutdown of operations to safeguard our members, our families and our communities. Your UAW leadership feels very strongly, and argued very strongly, that this is the most responsible course of action.”
In the letter, Gamble said that on Sunday when the task force was created, a two week shutdown was discussed but the automakers declined to implement it immediately. Instead, they requested 48 hours to put together a plan to safeguard factory workers. Gamble noted that this afternoon is the end of that 48 hours and so once the plans are submitted, the task force will review them. If the UAW is not satisfied, Gamble wrote that the UAW will “use any and all measures” to protect factory workers.
In recent days, the spread of coronavirus has forced the shutdown of numerous factories in Europe, including Ford’s biggest plants on the Continent and most of FCA’s production sites in Europe. Analysts have predicted that it is only a matter of time before the same measures are taken in the U.S.
Four days ago, the UAW confirmed that the first employee of a Detroit-based automaker, FCA, had contracted coronavirus. That employee is salaried and works at a plant in Indiana. Today, both GM and Ford reported that they each have one employee who has tested positive, both of which work at the respective test centers.
The three automakers did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.