DETROIT (AP) (3/18/2020) – Two people briefed on the matter say Detroit’s three automakers have agreed to close all of their factories due to worker fears about the coronavirus.
The United Auto Workers union has been pushing for factories to close because workers are fearful of coming into contact with the virus.
General Motors was beginning a “systematic orderly suspension” of manufacturing in North America beginning soon. The shutdown will last until March 30.
The plant closures will happen one-by-one. The Flint Assembly plant will be operating until the end of second shift on March 25 before closing — a full week after Wednesday’s announcement.
“You just have to roll with the punches, not panic,” said UAW Local 598 official Paul Muehlenbeck Jr. “Everyone’s kind of panicking. Just do what you normally do, everyone use common sense, wash your hands, we shouldn’t have to be told that.”
GM workers in Flint have expressed frustration over the past week about remaining open and working in close quarters with each other during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Flint manufacturing complex could have 7,500 people under one roof at the same time.
“There’s a lot of sanitation in there. They’re trying to do what they can, but how do you do that with thousands of workers passing each other every eight hours of the day,” Muehlenbeck said. “You’re running three shifts. It’s hard to control the atmosphere.”
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