UAW: 20 Ford employees in quarantine after 2 test positive for COVID-19

Posted at 11:19 PM, May 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-24 10:13:34-04

DEARBORN (WXYZ) — A UAW representative is demanding Ford shutdown its Dearborn truck plant until it starts full and regular testing employees for COVID-19. After making that formal demand on Tuesday, the union says two employees tested positive for COVID-19.

As a result of those two cases, the UAW says 20 employees are having to quarantine.

It was the first week back on the job for the Big 3. The union says it filed the grievance against Ford on behalf of the plant because it believes the plants reopened too soon.

Gary Walkowicz, UAW bargaining committeeman said, "And of course now it's concerning because those 20 people -- they're worried about exposing their family, parents and children to the virus."

Walkowicz said one employee tested positive on Wednesday, and the other on Thursday.

"There's no way to really socially distance very well. People are in close contact with each other on the job for up to 10 hours a day, and I think it's really dangerous to put people in that situation," Walkowicz said.

Leading up to the first week back on the job, Ford said it put safety measures in place. However, Walkowicz says it's not nearly enough. He drew comparisons to the devastating impact of COVID-19 seen at meat packing plants.

"(That's) where many people have been exposed to the virus, contracted the virus and have died. We've seen that from grocery stores workers," he said.

Walkowicz continued, "We think for all workers we need to have a safe workplace and certainly I think, as I said earlier, I think the lives of autoworkers right now are more important than building a few trucks."

In a statement to 7 Action News, Ford said, "The safety of our workforce is our top priority. Working closely with the UAW and external experts in infectious disease and epidemiology, we have developed safety standards to protect our workforce; we follow those protocols at all ford facilities globally. Our safety protocol continues to evolve as we learn more about COVID-19."

The union expects to hear back this week from Ford. If the company rejects the grievance, the UAW says it will then escalate it to the international union.