Car Industry

UAW pushes back on early May production restart for GM, Ford, FCA factories

The auto union said the data isn't conclusive that people can safely go back to work, and testing isn't widespread enough.

May might be too early to restart production.
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The United Auto Workers union spoke out against restarting production early next month at General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plants in a statement issued Friday. The union's comment comes as numerous automakers eye May as a time to bring workers back and begin producing vehicles once again.

Detroit's Big Three shut down production in all of North America in mid-March to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. As the pandemic swept across the US, Detroit was hit hard.

"At this point in time, the UAW does not believe the scientific data is conclusive that it is safe to have our members back in the workplace," the union said. Coronavirus testing isn't widespread enough to "really understand the threat our members face," the UAW added, and called on automakers to ensure maximum health precautions are in place before workers return to the production lines.

That said, the UAW underscored it's pleased with GM, Ford and FCA's response to the pandemic as it continues discussions on how to bring workers back to the job.

The Big Three and the UAW confirmed earlier this week that they've begun talks on how to restart production in a safe manner, which could include curtains welded on production lines to ensure workers who can't social distance remain separated. Some UAW leadership wants every worker to have proper personal protective equipment before heading back to work.

While automakers aren't building cars, each has supported health care workers on the front lines in some form. GM started building ventilators under the Defense Production Act in Indiana and face masks in Michigan. Ford also plans to build ventilators and showed off designs for new respirators. It's been 3D-printing face shields since last month, too. FCA said it started production of face masks at a Chinese plant to ship to the US.

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