Unifor, Automakers Form COVID-19 Task Force North of the Border

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
unifor automakers form covid 19 task force north of the border

Unifor, the union representing Detroit Three autoworkers in Canada, joined those companies in announcing a joint task force Tuesday, the same day the province of Ontario declared an emergency amid the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Like the U.S. task force announced Monday, the Canuck team aims to boost protective measures at the country’s auto plants and warehouses.

Heading up the task force is Unifor President Jerry Dias, Ford of Canada CEO Dean Stoneley, FCA Canada President David Buckingham, and GM Canada President Scott Bell. As you’d expect, the measures closely mirror those seen in the U.S.

“Preventative actions currently under review at the three companies’ Canadian auto facilities include visitor screening, increased cleaning and sanitizing of common areas and touch points, safety protocols for people with potential exposure and those who exhibit flu-like symptoms,” the union and automakers said in a joint statement.

“The task force members today discussed progress with additional safety practices and actions including break and cleaning schedules, health and safety education, health screening, food service and any other areas designed to improve protections for employees.”

Stateside, the United Auto Workers pressured the Detroit Three to idle all plants for two weeks in a bid to curtail the spread of coronavirus. Eventually, the automakers agreed to a series of rotating shutdowns, allowing production to proceed to some degree while freeing up time to disinfect facilities. So far, Unifor hasn’t issued this kind of appeal.

The measures arising from Ontario’s Tuesday emergency declaration includes a laundry list of workplaces to be shuttered, but auto plants do not fall under the type of public gathering place the government wants to see drained of humanity. As well, the partial closure of the U.S.-Canada border (announced in stages this week, including a Wednesday proclamation by President Donald Trump) does not impact commercial vehicles. At this point, like everywhere else, everyone’s just waiting to see how long production can continue.

Speaking to the St. Catharines Standard, Tim McKinnon, GM unit chairman for Unifor Local 199, said, “It depends on the market. It depends on a lot of things. It’s kind of a wait and see and day by day.”

[Image: Fiat Chrysler]

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 1 comment
  • Ect Ect on Mar 18, 2020

    As in the US, creating a "task force" made up of the union President and D3 CEOs reeks of it being a PR exercise, not a meaningful exercise in slowing a pandemic. Hopefully, there is a REAL task force behind the curtain that is made up of people who bring real skills to the task.

  • CEastwood Seven mil nitrile gloves from Harbor Freight for oil changes and such and the thicker heavy duty gripper gloves from Wally World for most everything else . Hell we used to use no gloves for any of that and when we did it was usually the white cloth gloves bought by the dozen or the gray striped cuff ones for heavy duty use . Old man rant over , but I laugh when I see these types of gloves in a bargain bin at Home Cheapo for 15 bucks a pair !
  • Not Previous Used Car of the Day entries that spent decades in the weeds would still be a better purchase than this car. The sucker who takes on this depreciated machine will learn the hard way that a cheap German car is actually a very expensive way to drive around.
  • Bullnuke Well, production cuts may be due to transport-to-market issues. The MV Fremantle Highway is in a Rotterdam shipyard undergoing repairs from the last shipment of VW products (along with BMW and others) and to adequately fireproof it. The word in the shipping community is that insurance necessary for ships moving EVs is under serious review.
  • Frank Wait until the gov't subsidies end, you aint seen nothing yet. Ive been "on the floor" when they pulled them for fuel efficient vehicles back during/after the recession and the sales of those cars stopped dead in their tracks
  • Vulpine The issue is really stupidly simple; both names can be taken the wrong way by those who enjoy abusing language. Implying a certain piece of anatomy is a sign of juvenile idiocy which is what triggered the original name-change. The problem was not caused by the company but rather by those who continuously ridiculed the original name for the purpose of VERY low-brow humor.