There have been a total of 22 cases of COVID-19 at General Motors‘ Arlington Assembly plant since production there restarted in late May, according to internal documents obtained by The Detroit Free Press.
The UAW has been putting the pressure on GM to idle Arlington Assembly as the amount of COVID-19 cases in Texas continues to rise, but the automaker has said the risk to employees is minimal due to the various safety protocols it has in place. All employees’ temperatures are taken before they enter the Arlington facility, social distancing guidelines are enforced where possible and workers are required to wear approved PPE.
However, a person close to the local UAW branch says the union will keep pushing GM to temporarily close the plant if the number of cases continues to trend upward.
“If we continue to see the number of cases trend upward, the union would have to request a shutdown of the plant again so that it can be cleaned and workers can get tested,” the source, who did not want to be named, told the Free Press. “It’s a concern.”
The UAW also told the Free Press that it is in constant discussion with GM with regard to the COVID-19 situation at all of GM’s plants in the United States – not just Arlington Assembly.
“The UAW is watching very carefully how these health and safety factors are impacting different plants and we are in a continual dialogue at all levels,” UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg told the newspaper. “Health and safety for all members is our priority.”
While there have been at least 22 cases of COVID-19 at Arlington Assembly, the plant employes around 5,000 workers, so less than 1 percent of employees there have tested positive for the virus.
GM is apprehensive to shutdown Arlington Assembly as the plant is the only site where its hugely popular and massively profitable line of full-size SUVs are built. The automaker is currently trying desperately to ramp up production of its new line of full-size SUVs, starting with the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon. The plant is believed to be running at just 25 percent capacity currently due to the new line of SUVs and other factors brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.