Factories in the auto market has been hit hard by the Coronavirus Pandemic. Some manufacturers are already looking for a way out of the crisis, and at least four of them are planning to restart their operations in early May.
Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen, and Hyundai are all developing plans to restart U.S. production next month. However, union heads believe that it will be too early.
Union Leaders Don’t Want Auto Factories Reopened
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has said that it’s still too early to even think about reopening factories. In a statement at the end of last week, the group said that “At this point in time, the UAW does not believe the scientific data is conclusive that it is safe to have our members back in the workplace. We have not done enough testing to really understand the threat our members face.”
The union represents workers at Fiat Chrysler, as well as Ford and GM. The latter two companies have not announced plans to restart production.
Automakers Pledge to Follow Established Protocols
Despite the protest, automakers will still push ahead with their plans, as long as they have permission from the governors in their respective states. Officials from Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen, and Hyundai have stated that they will follow protocols to protect their workers and limit the risk of infection in their factories.
Both Volkswagen (with a plant in Tennessee) and Hyundai (with a plant in Alabama) have stated that they will perform daily temperature checks on their workers. Volkswagen also promised to give its workers personal protective equipment like masks and gloves.
A Fine Balance Between Protecting Businesses and Protecting People
The U.S. economy is suffering heavily from the Coronavirus. Millions have been made unemployed and the federal government has had to provide more than $2 trillion in stimulus and relief measures to help support people and businesses.
While it’s understandable that large companies would want to restart production so that they can meet demand, it should not come at the cost of public health.
Both Ford and GM have stated that they have no plans to restart factories at this point. Honda, another major player in the industry, has said that it is continuing to assess conditions before it will resume production.
Investors can take some confidence knowing that top auto companies are looking to reopen, but they should also be aware of the potential for public pushback and possible government intervention on these important decisions.
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