Big 3 autoworkers begin returning to work; here are expected changes

Changes expected Monday for autoworkers returning to work
Posted at 10:06 AM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 10:06:56-04

A return to auto factories on Monday comes with many changes for United Auto Workers designed to keep everyone safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Health screening and social distancing will be in place when autoworkers come back to work Monday morning.

“We all know the auto industry is the backbone of the economy in Michigan," said Brian Pannebecker, a UAW worker for Ford Motor Company. "I’m looking forward to going back to work.”

Pannebecker works at 17 Mile Road and Mound Road in Sterling Heights, making axles for the Ford F-150 pickup. He's been told to expect sanitizing stations and regular cleaning. There will also be two tents at two different entrances, where employees will have their temperature taken with a thermal screening camera.

“I’m pretty comfortable with the precautions they’re going to be taking," he said.

Childcare has also been a top priority for employers, and employees, to figure out.

“If you have small kids, you’ve got to have a family member or neighbor. Somebody that you trust," Pannebecker said.

Ford is calling back nearly 60,000 U.S. workers. As part of the restart, Ford and Fiat Chrysler is partnering with Beamont to screen workers. General Motors is using on-site medical teams.

"If we see something out of the ordinary, we will not hesitate to pull things back," said Dr. Jeffrey Hess, GM's medical director.

The UAW is expecting as much testing as possible, and pledging to staff it's offices with enough people to field concerns.

FCA released a statement to 7 Action News Sunday night, which reads in part, “FCA is rigorously deploying multiple safety protocols to protect our employees...”

UAW President Rory Gamble released this statement to 7 Action News:

“We would like to thank the many UAW members who have worked so hard throughout the shutdown to keep the plants ready for today; as well as members who have worked to reconfigure plants for the safety of all; and those members who volunteered to make PPE equipment and keep the parts depots functioning during plant closures.

"The UAW will continue to do everything we can to protect the health and safety of all members as plants reopen. We will continue to be vigilant in protecting the health and safety of our members, their families and their communities. And we will continue to advocate for as much testing as possible and full testing as it becomes available.”