STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – Fiat-Chrysler Automotive is suspending production at its Sterling Heights Assembly Plant after it was announced Tuesday an employee at plant tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).
Workers said they didn’t feel safe working so closely together and when word came out that a work had a confirmed case of coronavirus, some workers walked out.
The first shift started at 5 a.m. -- after a few minutes, another line decided to stop. With lines shutting down, the ripple effect began.
The automaker said workers have been sent home. It’s not known when production will resume at the plant.
“Out of an abundance of caution for the health and welfare of the employees at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, FCA is suspending production on Wednesday, March 18. Employees on the first shift have been sent home. Workers on the second shift should not report. The company is working to align the plant’s shift pattern with yesterday’s announced agreement with the UAW. Further information regarding the resumption of operations will be shared later today,” reads a statement from an FCA spokeswoman.
FCA, along with GM and Ford, have been keeping the plants operational amid the coronavirus outbreak. The automakers agreed to partial-rotating plant shutdowns Tuesday after United Auto Workers (UAW) leadership asked for the plants to close.
However, after one of the FCA Sterling Heights plant workers tested positive, FCA closed the plant that builds the Ram 1500.
On Tuesday night, workers at the Sterling Heights plant said they were not comfortable with the conditions.
“It’s very tense,” Tom Gjokaj said. “Nobody’s comfortable”
Gjokaj is an FCA worker who was still working in close quarters with others.
“We spend more time in here working than we do with our families,” he said. “We’re like family ... and now we’re scared to touch each other.”
Watch the report from Tuesday night: