Several General Motors assembly plants returned to work this week after they were shut down in early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to local Detroit publication Click On Detroit, the reopening “went about as smoothly” as GM could have hoped for at this time, with workers saying they were impressed by the automaker’s newly implemented safety protocols.
Most of GM’s concern over workers spreading COVID-19 were related to the entrances and exits of the plants. In the past, workers would come in close contact with each other as they left the building while the other shift arrived. For this reason, the automaker is only operating one single shift at its U.S. plants right now, with second shifts set to come back online next week.
These GM plants all went back to work as of Monday, May 18th, though they are not operating at full capacity yet:
- Bay City Powertrain
- Bedford Casting Operations
- CAMI Assembly
- Defiance Casting Operations
- Flint Assembly
- Flint Engine
- Fort Wayne Assembly
- GMCH Grand Rapids
- GMCH Kokomo
- GMCH Rochester
- Lansing Delta Assembly
- Orion Assembly
- Toledo Transmission
- Tonawanda Engine Plant
- Romulus Engine
- Saginaw Metal Casting Operations
- Spring Hill Manufacturing
- Toledo Transmission
- Wentzville Assembly
GM CEO Mary Barra, along with other top GM executives like Mark Reuss, are set to visit GM’s U.S. assembly plants in the coming weeks and months to observe how the plants run in a post-pandemic world. The automaker has implemented a number of COVID-19 safety protocols at its production plants, which include taking employee temperatures when they arrive on-site, frequently cleaning workspaces and employee common areas and requiring social distancing measures where possible.
Most GM plants that are not listed above will return to work before the end of June, including its Arlington Assembly plant in Texas and Bowling Green Assembly plant on Kentucky. GM has said previously it expects to be back running at full production capacity in about four weeks.
Meanwhile, Ford Motor Company was forced to shut down its Dearborn truck plant on Wednesday afternoon after a worker there tested positive for COVID-19. Two employees also tested positive for COVID-19 at its Chicago Assembly plant in Tuesday, forcing the automaker to close that facility down, as well.
FCA workers have expressed concern over the automaker’s decision to bring its plants back online after 15 FCA employees died after contracting the virus earlier this year, but the company is moving ahead with the plan regardless.
Dennis Donald, a UAW Local 140 member who works at FCA’s Warren Assembly truck plant, said the production output was slower than normal, but the work shift was otherwise uneventful.
“In my area, it was about the same – I mean, a lot slower,” Donald told Click On Detroit. “We might have done like 100 trucks. Usually, we do 400. So it’s real slow right now. Now, the masks, the safety glasses – everyone has to wear them. I agree with that. Other than that, it was pretty much the same.”