General Motors earmarked its Warren Transmission plant for closure in late 2018, with the automaker locking the doors at the facility last summer. That shutdown was believed to be permanent, but the Warren plant has been given new life in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with GM using the empty floor space there to produce facemasks, face shields and other PPE as part of its ongoing efforts to combat the disease.
Despite this, GM has no plans to restart transmission manufacturing or any other type of parts production at the facility, according to The Detroit Free Press. The plant’s future remains as murky as when it first shutdown, though GM spokesman David Caldwell confirmed that PPE production will be ongoing at the site for the foreseeable future.
“Mask production (is) continuing, and there’s no projected end-date at this point in time,” Caldwell told the Free Press.
The UAW echoed Caldwell’s statement, with the worker’s union saying it “looks like this PPE (production) need will continue for some time until a vaccine is found to prevent the pandemic from spreading.”
Warren currently operates on three shifts, seven days a week producing face masks, face shields, medical gowns and aerosol boxes for intubation. Roughly 150 people work at the plant, including UAW represented workers and white-collar GM production engineers.
GM began gutting the Warren Transmission facility in mid-March to prepare it for PPE production, clearing 31,000 sq. ft. of floor space and installing new machines for making face masks. The masks began rolling off the assembly line on March 20th. The automaker started out by providing PPE to local hospitals and medical centers that were in need, but many are now being sent to GM buildings as its various U.S. production and engineering facilities come back online.
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