Most Fiat Chrysler workers have been back in factories for over a month now after being temporarily laid off because of the coronavirus pandemic. And while production has restarted it’s also been temporarily stopped at two separate plants by workers over coronavirus, and FCA is fed up.
The first stoppage was on June 25 at Jefferson North in Detroit, where a worker who later tested negative was sent home and workers there stopped in solidarity.
The second was two days after that at Stirling Heights Assembly Plant, also in Michigan, where employees stopped after one of them was sent to get a virus test.
The day after that, Fiat Chrysler apparently it had decided it had enough. The company’s head of manufacturing sent a letter to employees on June 28 threatening them discipline if there were any more “unauthorized” stoppages. The executive also said that pay could be docked.
“Unauthorized work stoppages in our facilities create both disruption, and, potentially, safety concerns, and therefore cannot be tolerated,” Mike Resha, Fiat Chrysler’s head of North American manufacturing, wrote in a June 28 letter. Employees found to have instigated unapproved shutdowns will face disciplinary action, and stoppages “will result in zero pay,” he wrote.
A representative for Fiat Chrysler declined to comment on the letter. The company agreed to tighten health screening procedures for workers entering plants and dispatch cleaners to work areas within 15 minutes of being notified, Resha wrote. He also warned any employee who is untruthful in health-screening questionnaires that staff are required to fill out before entering facilities will be fired.
The UAW has encouraged automakers to uh maybe listen to the concerns of its employees in dealing with the pandemic, though this approach is more management telling workers to listen to them, or be disciplined.
Meanwhile, three Sterling Heights workers have died of COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic, one in March and two in April, in addition to a fourth who worked at an FCA plant in Kokomo, Indiana. FCA workers know the stakes as well as anyone.
I emailed FCA to see if it had further comment.