By on March 16, 2020

Most white-collar types working for domestic automakers will be able to limit exposure to the rampaging coronavirus by sealing themselves off at home, relying on computers, phones, and Skype to carry on the business of making cars. But those whose livelihoods involve the physical building of cars are a different story; they have to come into work, so long as the plant stays open.

With this in mind, the Detroit Three and the United Auto Workers joined up to create the COVID-19/Coronavirus Task Force — an effort to lower the risk posed to assembly plant workers.

Heading up the task force is the shiniest brass from each entity: UAW President Rory Gamble, Ford Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Hackett, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, and Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley. Backing them up are the respective UAW heads assigned to each automaker, joined by the medical staff of each automaker and their manufacturing and labor leadership teams.

“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,” said the Detroit Three leaders in a joint statement. “We are all coming together to help keep our workforces safe and healthy.”

As for what this means on the ground, the task force’s recommendations and responsibilities are pretty much what you’d expect of any still-functional workplace in the grip of an infectious disease outbreak. Things like the repeated sanitization of commonly-touched surfaces, previously-announced “enhanced” visitor screening, safety protocol for exposed workers, and the same thing for workers who actually show symptoms. Break times, food prep and availability, and employee education will be other focuses.

Sounds mundane, but there’s little else a company can do, aside from temporarily laying off workers while providing full pay — something many would no doubt prefer under these circumstances, but that’s a slightly different issue.

“As the joint task force identifies enhancements, each company, together with the UAW, will provide regular updates to the workers in their facilities,” the automakers stated.

[Image: General Motors]

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7 Comments on “Detroit Three, UAW Launch Coronavirus Task Force...”

  • avatar

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    Like I said in the thread earlier today, these plants will be closed by the end of the week.

  • avatar

    Judging buy all the bare street pictures I’ve been seeing lately I don’t think car sales are going to be taking off anytime too soon, so shuttering auto plants will only help reduce a glut of cars/trucks/suv’s, maybe they will turn their work force into making ventilators and other medical emergency equipment!

  • avatar

    It’s going to be a heck of a mess unwinding all these shutdowns in a few weeks. All the testing will produce a spike in the number of cases, but the true mortality rate will drop to normal flu-season rates.

    There are already American, Canadian, and Israeli vaccines being tested, and the measures being taken now will be seen in retrospect as panic-induced. That’s my take.

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    The United Kingdom has asked manufacturers including Ford, Honda and Rolls Royce to help make health equipment including ventilators to cope with the coronavirus outbreak!
    We could do it also!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    That would actually be a good thing for the public and for the auto industry if people stop buying new vehicles.

  • avatar

    Same thing happened during WWII. After war with virus ends there will be a boom. Buy auto stocks now while they are cheap..

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