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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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Auto workers concerned about safety as plants prepare to open

Posted at 12:06 PM, May 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-09 12:06:52-04

Thousands of workers who supply the auto industry or build our cars are getting word plants are reopening. Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced they and other manufacturers can resume production as soon as Monday.

Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and General Motors all shut down their assembly plants in March - as COVID-19 spread.

Many workers tell 7 Action News they are concerned about the virus. They just don’t know how this is going to go and want to make sure they protect themselves and their families.

Workers at the plants are getting packets like one Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sent out this week. It let’s workers know what has been done to make sure plants are safe, and what workers should do to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Workers are being told that while the governor is allowing plants to open Monday, FCA , like other automakers, will open a week later on May 18th.

“I just don’t feel like a business that has over 3,000 employees should be open right now,” said Anthony Virga, who has worked in a FCA plant for 20 years.

He and his fiancé say they have a big reason to be worried about COVID-19.

“We have a new baby coming in the next few weeks and her doctor says they want both of us double-quarantined, not leaving the house at all,” said Virga.

“Even now she wants me to stay home and be quarantined,” said Lauren Van Pelt of her doctor. “She asked me what he does for a living, where he works and she doesn’t want him leaving the house or having visitors coming over. It is definitely nerve-racking.”

They are not alone in their concerns. UAW Spokesperson Brian Rothenberg told me on the phone the union and its members are in new territory because it is such an unprecedented situation. No interviews were available Friday because union leadership is so busy attending to concerns from members.

Workers who have issues due to child care, health or family concerns are being told to contact local union. The union, automakers, and the state have worked together to come up with ways to open as safely as possible.

The big three are all saying production is expected to resume on the 18th, although a small number of workers might return earlier to prepare. Workers will not return at once. While the auto suppliers are also allowed to reopen Monday, it is expected to take time for parts to be made and delivered to assembly plants so they can get to full capacity. </p><p>
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