General Motors is targeting May 18th for reopening its U.S. and Canadian vehicle assembly plants, the automaker said in a memo sent to UAW members on Tuesday.
“GM plans to begin a limited, cadenced, and site-specific approach for a return to the workplace in many of our North American manufacturing facilities,” the memo said. “We are targeting Monday, May 18, and we are collaborating with state governments and union partners. We are confident that we have an approach that allows us to move into this next phase with safety as our guide.”
UAW President Rory Gamble also confirmed the union is on board with the May 18th start date after he previously expressed concern over the automaker restarting production too early.
“The companies contractually make that decision and we all knew this day would come at some point,” Gamble said in a prepared statement. “Our UAW focus and role is and will continue to be, on health and safety protocols to protect our members.”
Crucially, GM has agreed to pay workers who are forced to quarantine for up to 14 days. The UAW had said the Big Three must agree to pay workers who are self quarantining after contracting COVID-19 or coming into contact with someone who had the virus, as employees may be apprehensive to report symptoms if they believed they would lose pay over it.
GM is expected to make an official announcement with regard to the May 18th restart date sometime on Wednesday.
In a 48-page handbook released last week, GM outlined the safety measures it will take to curb the spread of COVID-19 at its production plants once they come back online. These protocols will include taking employees’ temperatures when they arrive at work, setting up hand sanitizing stations and staggering work shifts to reduce the number of employees that are concentrated in one area. The automaker developed the handbook using lessons learned at some of its plants in China and Korea, along with its ventilator production facility in Kokomo, Indiana.
GM was forced to temporarily shut down its U.S. and Canadian assembly plants in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The automaker is eager to get its plants back online as its vehicle inventory dwindles, particularly its Arlington Assembly plant, which will build the new line of full-size SUVs, and its various pickup truck plants.
Source: The Detroit Free Press