WARREN, Mich. – Tuesday was a busy day for the automotive industry as it fights its own battle with the coronavirus.
There are positive coronavirus cases popping up in executive suites, and the United Auto Workers union is asking the Big 3 to shut down.
A conference call is being held Tuesday evening between UAW officials and representatives from Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler. The UAW is pushing hard to get the plants closed.
Meanwhile, the auto companies have hired cleaning crews to fan out in their technical centers as the first two positive tests have come to the force.
Service pro trucks were brought to the gates of the General Motors Warren Tech Center. Crews were cleaning and disinfecting everything in sight.
They got the call when GM found out Monday night that one of its employees -- a man who works in the Cole Technical Center in Warren -- tested positive for the coronavirus.
The man is a salaried employee who hasn’t been at his desk since Thursday because the company moved to remote office mode Friday. He’d sought out his own test, and now GM is contacting his coworkers.
The same thing happened at Ford in Dearborn. The employee who tested positive found out Monday. That employee worked at the Ford Engineering Center, in building five.
Ford officials said the man hadn’t been to work this week and much of last week, leaving the company to believe nobody else is in jeopardy.
Still, Ford has a large army of cleaning crews spreading out across the campus.
Plant closures are still a possibility, and Prentice Gardner, of UAW Local 140 in Warren, said it’s been unnerving inside the plant with hundreds of people in close proximity to construction workers while getting the plant ready for a model changeover.
“Do you think you should be in here working?” Local 4′s Rod Meloni asked Gardner.
“No,” Gardner said. “There’s a lot of anxiety. People are worried.”
Gardner said he’s concerned that there are upwards of 1,000 people in the plant at any one time and they al spilled out of the plant together Tuesday afternoon at the same gate. That underscores their frustration and anxiety.