UAW Reports Death of Two FCA Factory Employees With Coronavirus

uaw reports death of two fca factory employees with coronavirus

The UAW has announced the death of two Fiat Chrysler factory workers who contracted the novel coronavirus, extending sympathies while urging members to exercise safe practices during the ongoing health crisis. With COVID-19 infections ramping up across Europe and the United States, this was to be expected. The deaths are simply the first known to impact autoworker union members directly.

FCA declined to offer the names of the men, citing a respect for privacy. For our purposes, we’re only interested in their places of business, noticing the facilities where the two individuals worked — FCA’s truck plant in Sterling Heights, MI and transmission facility in Kokomo, IN — previously reported cases of employees contracting the virus.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles closed its North American assembly plants last week for at least the remainder of this month. At the time, it had previously idled its facility in Sterling Heights after an employee reportedly contracted the new coronavirus. There were also reports of contagion at the Kokomo site, with at least one worker testing positive on March 12th.

According to Automotive News, the UAW recently shared news of a third death — this time from the Warren Truck Assembly Plant near Detroit, though the union said it wasn’t clear that the employee had actually contracted the virus, just that they were being treated for similar symptoms before passing away.

In a letter to members, UAW President Rory Gamble briefly noted the loss of life before shifting to the game plan put in place to avoid future tragedies. This deals largely with union victories in getting other manufacturers and suppliers to finally shut down plants or extend closures already in effect:

We had some other positive news today. Working with the Ford Motor Company, we got the announcement that they will not be reopening plants on March 30, as was originally planned, due to numerous stay-at-home orders from government officials. We commend Ford for this action. FCA has told us that they intend to comply with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order and have no plans to reopen on March 30. We are waiting to hear from GM and are demanding that they put our members’ safety first and adhere to government and health officials’ recommendations to stay-at-home. We will keep you updated.

In another positive development, the UAW and Ford Motor Company will be collaborating to find ways to help improve and protect lives across the country during this crisis. And, news from the UAW GM department announced a collaboration with the company to produce much needed ventilators to help save lives.

He closed by commending employees from all sectors who had to stay on the front lines to keep essential services operational in the United States, adding that the UAW would do everything in its power to keep everyone safe and slow the spread of the virus. It’s unlikely these will be the only UAW deaths reported.

The swift outbreaks that took place in Italy and Spain could foreshadow what the United States may endure if proper precautions aren’t taken. Though it could be argued that neither European country understood the seriousness of the situation before it was too late, Italy, which has also closed down all non-essential business, has reported the most coronavirus-related deaths of any nation in the world.

By contrast, China appears to be fairing rather well and now has fewer reported deaths than either of the suffering nations in Europe — despite it having more total cases and serving as the point of origin for COVID-19. However, that’s dependent on your preferred news sources. Many outlets seem to take China’s figures at face value, occasionally praising its aggressive response — albeit less so lately. Others claim the real numbers should be much higher and point to a string of governmental coverups stretching back before January.

Ideally, reliable data would have helped other nations better prepare for seemingly inevitable outbreaks, but that’s difficult to quantify or guarantee without the benefit of hindsight. The current reality is that countless industries must now make last minute plans as governments around the world scramble to come up with a solution. And it’s probably what we should be focused upon. For now, the automotive sector is operating (or more accurately not operating) in a fog of uncertainty. Workers want to work, but not get sick, and manufacturers want them building cars without spreading disease.

Sadly, those options appear to be mutually exclusive for the time being.

[Image: James R. Martin/Shutterstock]

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  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Mar 26, 2020

    A major issue with C5's and TheLaine's beliefs are that the economic aftermath of a downturn will be neither as pronounced or as prolonged as they keep stating. It will instead be a blip. The infrastructure will remain intact. Pent up demand will unleash consumer spending. Some must be too young to remember that traditionally Western Societies largely 'shut down' for 4 days over Easter, and from the period of December 24th to January 2nd. With zero negative economic impact. In Ontario all stores were required to legally close on Sundays until the early 1990's. Again with no negative economic impact. The majority of manufacturers would regularly have total plant shutdowns, generally in early August, again with no negative impact. To this day many societies practice a 3 week hiatus/general vacation in August, with little negative economic impact. Whereas prolonging the infection period and overwhelming the healthcare facilities would have a serious economic impact. As they say in risk management 'it is better to mistake a rock as a bear, than to mistake a bear as a rock'.

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    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Mar 26, 2020

      @Arthur Dailey - Ah, yes.. The "Lord's Day Act". It was against the law to work on a Sunday or a Christian religious holiday. "Back in the day", the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec was more powerful and influential than the government. Anyone working on a "Lord's day" was expected to donate their pay to the church. I do believe that was an expectation from other religious entities.

  • Old_WRX Old_WRX on Mar 26, 2020

    I thought this site was about cars not. Now the comments seem (mostly) to be political knee jerk-ian foaming at the mouth.

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    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Mar 26, 2020

      @ravenuer Well, they arent making them lol. All I can say is that the Mini EV has been delayed so I'll be looking for some rims for my Fiesta ST which I suppose will be cheaper to buy now since Uncle Sugar is kicking some cash around which negates part of the reason for grabbing the mini anyway. So a thread about decent looking 15 or 16 inch rims (stock 17s are stupid on a car that small) rims in 4x108 with a 38-40 offset would be cool. They seem to not be terribly common but I'd prefer redrilling the hubs and rotors to 4x100 if I can avoid it and I'm not running adapters

  • Syke Is it possible to switch the pure EV drive on and off? Given the wonderful throttle response of an EV, I could see the desirability of this for a serious off-roader. Run straight ICE to get to your off-roading site, switch over the EV drive during the off-road section, then back to ICE for the road trip back home.
  • ToolGuy Historical Perspective Moment:• First-gen Bronco debuted in MY1966• OJ Simpson Bronco chase was in 1994• 1966 to 1994 = 28 years• 1994 to now = 28 yearsFeel old yet?
  • Ronnie Schreiber From where is all that electricity needed to power an EV transportation system going to come? Ironically, the only EV evangelist that I know of who even mentions the fragile nature of our electrical grid is Elon Musk. None of the politicians pushing EVs go anywhere near it, well, unless they are advocating for unreliable renewables like wind and solar.
  • FreedMike I just don’t see the market here - I think about 1.2% of Jeep drivers are going to be sold on the fuel cost savings here. And the fuel cost savings are pretty minimal, per the EPA: fuel costs for this vehicle are $2200 and $2750 for the equivalent base turbo-four model. I don’t get it.
  • FreedMike How about the “Aztek” package? Wait, this car already has that…Said it before and I’ll say it again: they need to restyle the hind end on this car, stat.