Detroit’s Big 3 automakers resume phased-in production

Posted at 4:56 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 18:26:18-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Tens of thousands of autoworkers returned to their jobs Monday and only minor issues have been reported.

The United Auto Workers Union says some plants called back more workers than needed because they were concerned some workers would not make it through safety screening and would have to be sent to medical units or home to quarantine. “That’s good news,” one union official said.

General Motors said last week testing for COVID-19 would be done at the plant level with the specimens sent out to labs and results within 24 to 48 hours. Ford and FCA said today they now have contracts with clinics to send workers for testing and get results within 24 hours.

Another issue that surfaced is the type of masks given to workers inside some General Motors plants. A picture sent to 7 Action News has a disclaimer on the box that the mask will not protect against COVID-19. However, GM and the UAW both say the mask meets CDC guidelines if two workers are both wearing the masks even if they are closer than six feet working together. The union says they are continuing to push for the best PPE available.

Ramping up production can be a challenge keeping in sync with the supply chain. Suppliers in Mexico have not resumed production. analyst John McElroy points out Mercedes Benz resumed production last month but had to shut down again because they ran out of parts.

Metro Detroit is abuzz with President Donald Trump planning to visit the Ford plant in Rawsonville on Thursday where they’re making 50,000 ventilators under a federal contract worth $336 Million. McElroy says the president is snubbing GM, which is also making 30,000 ventilators in Indiana under pressure under the Defense Production Act ordered by the president.

Ford requires people entering plants to wear a mask. Will President Trump? He has not during other recent public events.

As workers left the FCA Warren Truck Assembly Plant this afternoon, most said they were glad to be back and safety is not a concern for them.