UPDATE: Detroit’s three automakers have agreed to partial factory shutdowns, deep cleaning of equipment and longer periods between shifts to head off union demands for U.S. plant closures due to the coronavirus threat. The agreements came Tuesday night after union officials spoke individually with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler. The companies also agreed to “extensive plans” to avoid member coming in contact with one another, the United Auto Workers union said in a statement. The United Auto Workers union said earlier in the day that it wanted the automakers to shut down their factories for two weeks to keep its members safe from the spreading coronavirus.
ORIGINAL STORY: In a letter to union members, the United Auto Workers union has asked Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler to shut down production for two weeks, to help keep members safe from the coronavirus.
According to the letter, the ‘Big 3’ asked for two days to put together plans to keep worker safe.
However, the 48-hour window is up this afternoon. The union is currently in a meeting with the automakers. The letter says the UAW is ready to use any and all measures to protect members.
This announcement also comes after a General Motors employee who works at the Cole Engineering Center in Warren tested positive for the virus last night.
GM says they’ve been preparing to combat the coronavirus since January.
“We’re monitoring the situation very very closely and right now we believe we can safely operate and it would be enhancements that we’re going to be implementing. We hope to continue operating cause there are a lot of people who are depending upon the auto industry for transportation and for their livelihood,” GM spokesman Jim Cain told 6 News.
You can read the entire letter below.
Brothers and Sisters,
I’m going to get right to the point. I want you to know exactly where we are with our discussions with the Big 3 leadership and protecting our members and their facilities during this international crisis.
I announced this past Sunday that the International UAW had formed a COVID-19/Coronavirus task force with GM, Ford and FCA to implement enhanced protections for manufacturing and warehouse employees at all three companies.
I want to be very transparent about what happened during our conversation Sunday with the Big 3. 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.
The companies, however, were not willing to implement this request. They asked for 48 hours to put together plans to safeguard workers in their facilities. (Ford Motor Company has indicated this week that they are willing to rotate down shifts and are planning to shut down all European operations next week.)
The 48-hour window is up this afternoon. We will be evaluating what the companies submit today and there will be a meeting this evening at 6 p.m., where the Task Force will review plans for the safety and health of all members, their families and our communities.
I want to be very clear here: If the UAW leadership on the task force, myself and Vice Presidents Cindy Estrada, Terry Dittes and Gerald Kariem, are not satisfied that our members will be protected, we will take this conversation to the next level.
These companies will be put on notice that the UAW will use any and all measures to protect our brothers and sisters who are working in their facilities. And make no mistake, we have powerful allies who have stepped up to help us. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, despite what you might have heard in some recent erroneous reports, was instrumental in assisting us in bringing the Big 3 to the table, as was U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell.
I know these are very difficult days for all of us. Please know that my #1 priority, and the #1 priority of the entire UAW leadership, is the safety and well-being of our UAW family and our communities.
I will be sending another update very soon on what we see from the Big 3 today.
I’d like to ask that we all remember that we are all in this together.