The Detroit Three automakers are starting to get antsy after over a month of having their North American production facilities shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the companies losing out on billions of dollars as their employees remain sheltered at home, it certainly isn’t surprising that the automakers are pushing to fire up the assembly lines as soon as possible. According to a statement made by the UAW President Rory Gamble, the automakers might be pushing to reopen too soon.
In a statement made on Thursday, Gamble stated that he does not believe that the scientific data behind the coronavirus pandemic supports efforts by Detroit’s automakers to reopen their facilities as soon as being discussed. FCA is the only automaker who has put out an official plan to reopen on May 4, while GM and Ford have both sided against making such a statement at this time,
With the statewide stay-at-home order in hard-hit Michigan likely to be extended past April 30, it is easy to understand why autoworkers may be hesitant to return to the factories. The UAW and Detroit’s automakers are currently engaged in talks to determine the best course of action, though if Gamble’s statement is any sign of how that is going, it might still be some time before an agreement is reached.
The UAW believes that it is vital that the automakers provide all of their employees with coronavirus testing, which is something Gerald Johnson, GM’s executive vice president of global manufacturing doesn’t agree with. In an interview withThe Detroit News, Johnson stated that testing the companies more than 50,000 employees would be “impractical”.
Instead, GM plans to test employees who show symptoms of the virus or who have been exposed to someone with the virus, as well as monitor employees’ temperatures through thermal scanning.
This is a difficult time for business and employees alike across the country as we try and find a way to keep the economy moving during this time. That said, the science of the virus really isn’t on the side of the automakers. As testing becomes more readily available in parts of the country, the number of asymptomatic carriers of the virus continues to rise, with up to 25 percent of infected people showing no symptoms according to the CDC.
While we are sure that the autoworkers want to get back to work themselves, the ever changing information about this deadly virus will likely continue to muddy the conversation between the UAW and Detroit’s automakers.