COVID Cases Rising in Two Key GM Plants

Reports that GM had declined to close its Arlington Assembly plant broke yesterday. Today, reports suggest that a second plant, in Wentzville, Missouri, is seeing COVID cases on the rise.

The Detroit Free Press reports that there are 22 confirmed cases in Arlington and 12 in Wentzville. The information comes from company documents the outlet obtained and a UAW source who spoke on condition of anonymity. GM has not confirmed the number of cases as a matter of policy, though.

Work at neither of the plants has stopped, but the person who spoke to the Detroit Free Press said that the UAW would be forced to ask for a shut down if cases continue to rise.

The combined number is still below 1% of the workforce at the two plants, but workers have reportedly told the Free Press that they are afraid of contracting the virus.

“The UAW is watching very carefully how these health and safety factors are impacting different plants and we are in a continual dialogue at all levels,” said UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg. “Health and safety for all members is our priority.”

General Motors says it is in constant dialogue with the UAW, but two major shutdowns in the last twelve months have left the company low on supply. That’s a big problem for its Arlington assembly plant, which produces highly profitable SUVs like the Escalade and the Suburban. Wentzville, meanwhile, makes the Colorado, the Canyon, and the Express van. 

“Many of the same steps we follow inside our plants can help keep people safe when they’re not working, and that includes staying home if you’re not well, social distancing when you leave home, frequent hand-washing and the use of masks,” said GM spokesman David Barnas in a text to the Free Press. 

Still, as cases continue to rise across the country, it may be hard to avoid a second round of shutdowns without undue risk to workers.

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