UAW and General Motors Are Backing Mask Mandates Again

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
uaw and general motors are backing mask mandates again

Despite American carmakers and the United Auto Workers abandoning mask mandates at the end of June, there’s been an about-face in Wentzville, Missouri. The state witnessed an uptick of cases, encouraging both the UAW and General Motors to reintroduce masks and social distancing protocols.

The facility is responsible for the GMC Canyon and Colorado, as well as Chevrolet’s Savana and Express. It’s also likely to be the first facility of many we’re assuming will be told it’s time to go back to the old masking rules. But why is this happening so soon after everyone was given the green light to return to normal operations?

According to a safety alert intercepted by The Detroit Free Press, Wentzville staffers were informed of the changes on Monday. While temperature checks will not be returning, employees (even those that have been vaccinated) will be required to wear masks to do their job.

“We have been informed by the company and UAW International that based on the severe upward trend of COVID cases in the surrounding areas all GM Wentzville Assembly Center employees will be once again required to wear masks upon entering the plant starting tonight with third shift employees,” states the alert.

But the “severe upward trend of COVID cases” isn’t as dire as one might assume. The New York Times has kept a running tally of cases and deaths between states. Missouri’s death rates really aren’t any worse than they were in May when everyone decided it was time to consider dropping safety protocols. Weekly averages from July represent fatalities in the single digits or low teens, which is practically identical to what we saw in June.

But new cases have increased, with the state seeing infections double among both the vaccinated and unvaccinated over the last several weeks. Averages remain smaller than they were over the cold weather months. But the spike has spooked quadrants of business and the government, especially since those new cases include both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. The good news is that severe cases are pretty rare across the board, with fatalities being a minuscule representation of the whole. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to have prevented leadership from restoring prohibitive measures nobody on the ground seems overly fond of.

That said, Missouri’s infection rates are a bit higher than the national average. Some are undoubtedly hoping that these health and safety protocols will be a temporary, isolated matter. But we’ve seen California beginning to signal that it’s considering mandatory statewide masking after witnessing a similar uptick in new cases. Experts are blaming the delta variant of COVID-19 — which has the same great taste but is less filling.

While there’s been some debate on its severity, the overall effectiveness of vaccinations, and the general utility of masking, officials believe it’s likely more contagious and remain steadfast that increasing vaccinations and deploying social distancing measures remain the best solutions. We’re not sure how this one progresses but are doubting this will be the last time you read about safety restrictions and evolving factory protocols.

[Image: Miljan Zivkovic/Shutterstock]

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  • Daniel J Daniel J on Jul 21, 2021

    I honestly could care less about what a private company wants to do with it's employees. I know people who got covid where their offices were 100 percent masked and linked directly to the offices. MIT showed that even with wearing mask, that if air isn't exchanged, that an infectious person can saturate the air so that others can get infected. This is exactly what happened to several people I know. I do believe masks work in helping reduce viral load when close to someone for a brief period of time, as large "dropplets" will get caught. However, in an enclosed environment eventually the air will get saturated over time.

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    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jul 21, 2021

      @SCE to AUX I avoid United and American, but in this case they were the only option.

  • IH_Fever IH_Fever on Jul 21, 2021

    You guys never disappoint. The normal gaggle of leftists throwing their self righteous arrogance upon those who refuse to fall in lockstep with the hysteria. The alt right conspiracy theorists that have gone down the internet rabbit hole and have a plethora of "facts" to show us. It's well past having gotten old. Yes covid is real, yes people have died. We all gotta die sometime, losing it over this fact ain't going to help anything. Wear your mask, get your shot, or don't, just shut up about it already.

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    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Jul 22, 2021

      @Luke42 - your business school advice applies to virtually everything and everyone. It's the foundation of being a good healthcare professional. Listen, understand, empathize, collaborate, plan, implement, reassess.

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion:
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?