FREEP: Concerns About Health and Workers Out With COVID Symptoms Delay GM Production

With concerns about their health and safety, thousands of General Motors workers are taking COVID-19 leave as the disease continues to surge through the country. These absences have caused assembly line delays and difficulty keeping up with daily production demands.

Take Michigan’s Flint plant for example. With over 5,000 hourly workers on staff, 7 of whom have tested positive for COVID-19 since mid-May, 100 are on COVID leave due to exposure, family care needs or being at high risk, and 500 or so are on another form of leave of absence. This leave has led to the Flint plant struggling to keep up with demand.

UAW Local 598 Chairman Eric Welter was interviewed and he expressed his concerns and shared the resiliency of GM workers in Flint saying, ”It’s a difficult environment to work in. My people are stepping up to get it done, but it is hot wearing masks all day and doing the heavy work.”

Another affected GM plant is the Fort Wayne Assembly in Indiana. Of the plant’s 4,100 workers, nearly 1,000 have been on leave, 200 of which who are on COVID leave specifically.

An anonymous person interviewed by the Detroit Free Press shared “ They’re
[The Fort Wayne Assembly] at full schedule, but they have every single person on that assembly line, including management…”

The 430 previously laid-off workers from the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, and other laid-off workers from plants around the country are being relied upon to relieve some of the workforce demand. Laid-off workers can apply to positions within a 50 mile radius of their original plant to be rehired at the affected plants, however if they decline a transfer, they will remain laid-off.

GM workers have had to make the difficult decision about whether to continue to work and risk the health and safety of themselves, loved ones and coworkers, or take leave.

To read more about how GM workers have been affected by COVID-19, head to the Detroit Free Press here.

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