If the coronavirus is as infectious as it has been in other countries and our own Washington state then it is only a matter of time before it infects assembly line workers. When that happens each plant will have to close one by one. It’s what the NBA has done. It is what countless vehicle factories in Italy and China have done. It is inevitable. So until it happens companies are trying to get as many vehicles assembled before it all collapses. But today some factory workers decided to take things into their own hands before they become infected. They walked out of a Ram truck plant.
The walkout happened at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Warren, Michigan
It happened in Warren, just outside of Detroit, at the FCA Warren Truck Assembly Plant. According to Automotive News, 17 workers in the plant’s paint shop stopped working. The plant produces Ram 1500 Classic pickup trucks. FCA has confirmed there are no cases of the coronavirus at the plant as far as they know.
As of now, the workers have returned to their stations and production was not affected. A spokesperson said, “We are continuing to monitor the situation carefully and are taking all necessary precautions to safeguard the health and welfare of our workforce.”
This isn’t the first FCA plant to experience a walkout over coronavirus fears
This isn’t the first plant this has happened to. Last week an FCA assembly plant that builds minivans shut down. It happened at its Windsor Assembly Plant in Windsor, Canada. The shutdown lasted about 24 hours after one of its workers self-quarantined himself after learning they may have had contact with a person undergoing testing for the coronavirus.
All of this follows on the heels of a worker at FCA’s Kokomo, Indiana, transmission plant that tested positive for the coronavirus. There have been rumors and rumblings that there will be other walkouts by workers concerned for their health and safety.
Workers at the plant question why they are still working during a pandemic
Ken Mefford, a worker at the Warren plant, pleaded with the UAW. He told Automotive News, “Why in the world are you letting us go into this shop if you know there’s a national pandemic and we might get it?” Another unidentified worker said, “They have a few people that were sick and they had enough.”
In many states, governors are asking that all gathering places be shut down to try and minimize contracting the coronavirus. Bars, restaurants, small events, offices, and schools are all taking the advice. It seems like the same precautions should apply to places like assembly lines.
In Europe, FCA has already closed plants over concerns
In Europe, FCA has closed assembly plants as the virus spreads there. And here, all of the three Detroit vehicle manufacturers have assembled a joint task force to find best practices in slowing down the coronavirus spread at factories. The task force includes all three CEOs, three UAW vice presidents, and medical staff and leadership teams from all three companies.
All three companies issued this statement, “This is a fluid and unprecedented situation and the task force will move quickly to build on the wide-ranging preventive measures we have put in place. We are all coming together to help keep our workforces safe and healthy.”