General Motors expects to resume production at Lansing’s two assembly plants next week.
GM is touting extensive safety measures that will be in place when plants reopen on Monday.
Jim Glynn is vice president of global workplace safety at General Motors. He says the company “absolutely” has sufficient supplies of masks, eyewear and cleaning agents to safely bring workers back to plants.
Glynn describes a multi-layered safety approach that includes the wearing of safety equipment, frequent hand washing and added cleaning cycles.
He says he has followed the problems that have contributed to COVID-19 outbreaks at several meat processing plants. “If you look at some of the pictures or watched some of the videos, the masks are pulled down and people are congregating together," Glynn says, "so that’s frankly one of our learnings, is to make sure that everybody has a mask, make sure they understand how to wear them properly, and to wear them all of the time.”
Steve Delaney is president of UAW Local 602, representing workers at GM’s Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant. While some employees are looking forward to returning to work, Delaney says he’s seen social media comments that reflect some fear that it won’t be safe.
After watching a GM video about what to expect when the plant reopens, he’s concerned about the facility’s social distancing protocols. “We get that we’re going to have to wear a facemask, there’s going to be lots of hand cleaning and sanitizing going on," Delaney explains, "but there’s places in the area where the plant even admits that people are working shoulder to shoulder, touching the same part, pushing the same buttons. There’s just no way they can completely 100% social distance, keep everybody six feet apart.”
Delaney says the options for workers who don’t want to go back to the plant next week include paid sick leave for those with documented medical conditions; using Family and Medical Leave Act or vacation time; or taking unpaid leave.