Auto Workers Walk Out Of Plants Amidst Coronavirus Fears

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Many workers believe that not enough is being done to protect them against the global pandemic.

Auto workers across the US and Canada are walking out on the job as many allege that not enough is being done to protect them against the COVID-19 pandemic that's swept the globe.

Monday morning, 17 plant workers stopped working at Fiat Chrysler's Warren Truck Assembly Plant where the Ram 1500 Classic is built, The Detroit News reports, although FCA says that no cases of COVID-19 have been detected at the plant. And last week, members of Canadian auto workers union Unifor staged a 24-hour walkout at FCA's Windsor Assembly Plant, where the Chrysler Pacifica is built.

Ram Trucks
Ram Trucks
Ram Trucks

Meanwhile, members of UAW Local 600 in Dearborn have filed a grievance against Ford Motor Company over the automaker's alleged inaction regarding protecting workers against COVID-19. They are requesting a two-week work stoppage so that employees can self-quarantine, a hand-sanitizing station at every workstation, and a more frequent cleaning schedule.

Such work stoppages are typically very costly for automakers, but many question how big of an economic impact they'll ultimately have given that demand appears destined to tumble as much of the world seems about to enter a recession. New car sales tend to track with the overall health of the economy, and the COVID-19 pandemic has brought numerous industries to a grinding halt as people are urged to avoid large gatherings and public spaces.

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Ford has issued a statement encouraging its workforce to bring such concerns to management's attention, and CEO Jim Hackett has said the automaker will shut down any facility for 24 hours should a worker be diagnosed with COVID-19. FCA, meanwhile, has ramped up efforts to clean high-traffic areas throughout its manufacturing facilities, and the company is staggering shift breaks, increasing the distance between workers where possible, and arming workers with disinfecting supplies to clean up before and after shifts.

But widespread plant shutdowns seem almost a given, as states across the US mandate the closure of high-risk spaces like restaurants, schools, and gyms. Such closures have already hit Europe - for instance, at FCA's Melfi, Italy plant, where the Jeep Renegade, Jeep Compass, and Fiat 500X utility vehicles are assembled.

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2019-2020 Jeep Renegade Rear Angle View Jeep
Source Credits: Detroit News

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