WARREN, Mich. – Detroit’s Domestic Three automakers -- General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler -- are mulling their reopening options, but the Michigan stay-at-home order is providing a major roadblock.
One of the most important economic considerations across Michigan, and even the nation, is when the auto plants will reopen.
The Domestic Three want to reopen as soon as possible. FCA initially wanted to be open Monday, and there was evidence of that at the Warren truck plant. But that plan got postponed.
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Now, Local 4 is finding the auto companies have tabbed May 18 as a possible reopening day because it’s after the planned expiration of the current stay-at-home order. But even that date remains up in the air.
As it stands, none of the automakers is willing to say exactly when the assembly plants will open, making May 18 seem less likely.
The auto business uses a global, just-in-time supply chain that is currently shut down. Also, in order to have the assembly plants open by May 18, the supplier plants -- both foreign and domestic -- would have to open days, or preferably a week, before the assembly plants.
So far, that’s not looking likely, either.
The United Automobile Workers union isn’t interested in sending members back to work while the current stay-at-home order is in place.
Everything could change if Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer decides to loosen the reigns on her stay-at-home order. The pressure is on her to make that happen.
When the auto plants reopen, employees will likely have to wear company-provided face masks and undergo health pre-screenings and temperature checks before entering company buildings. They will go to vastly different work stations as the entire industry adjusts.
Partitions are being put up in many places, and there are new protocol for line workers to socially distance. There will be frequent cleaning with disinfectant, shifts will be staggered and line workers will go in one entrance and out another exit.