TONAWANDA N.Y. (WIVB) – The country’s three top automakers are systematically suspending production because of the coronavirus pandemic. This includes all Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, and General Motors plants.
“The best thing to do is be home with our families,” UAW Local 774 representative JR Baker said. “You know our kids are home now from school some of our workers have to deal with that too. It’s a lot on the workers minds than coming to work so the best thing for them is what they agreed upon and shut down until we get further instructions.”
All week companies have been told to reduce their workforce by at least 50 percent to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. On top of that, people are being advised to stay at least 6 feet away from each other. That’s not an easy task for employees at GM
Many workers at both the Tonawanda and Lockport plants spend their shift working side by side on assembly lines, building engines and other car parts. In an effort to keep workers and their families safe from the deadly disease, GM says it will gradually shut down departments within each of its plants.
“It’s good for our workers safety and not only for themselves but for their families and the community,” Baker said. “It’s kind of, stay out of the way until we know what’s going on.”
Baker says there’s no specific timeline for which departments will stop production first, but that these are the proactive measures they’ve been waiting for since the pandemic began. For many workers, this is reassuring.
The Town of Tonawanda and Lockport plants have a combined 2,900 hourly and salaried workers. News 4 is told details as far as how the workers will be compensated are still being worked out. More details are expected to be announced in the next few days.