DETROIT - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which has seen at least three workers die in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, plans to restart production April 14.
The company, in a news release Thursday on the restart date, said it is taking "important steps to help flatten the curve of the spread of COVID-19, and put the health and safety of our workforce, and the communities where we live and work first."
The announcement follows one by Ford earlier Thursday, saying the Dearborn automaker would restart production on a limited basis on April 6 but at many plants in the United States on April 14. GM, according to another Free Press story, said it did not have a firm date.
"FCA plants across the U.S. and Canada, as well as headquarters operations and construction projects, are intended to remain closed until April 14, dependent upon the various state stay in place orders and the readiness of each facility to return to production. The Mopar Parts Distribution Centers, which have been deemed essential to keeping first responders and commercial vehicles on the road, will continue to operate with paid volunteers. The status of production at FCA's Mexican operations will be subject to a separate announcement," FCA's statement said.
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The announcements come in the midst of other news, from the stay-at-home orders issued by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (through April 13) and other governors and the deaths connected to FCA facilities.
Three deaths of FCA workers connected to the virus - at Warren Truck, Sterling Heights Assembly and Kokoma Transmission, in Indiana - have been reported.
FCA, however, said the company is working with the UAW and Unifor, the unio that represents Canadian autoworkers, to expand cleaning and social-distancing protocols.
The UAW, however, has noted its concern about decisions on restarting production:
"These decisions should be informed by data and where each state is on the contagion curve. The UAW maintains that strict CDC guidelines need to be adhered to at all worksites and that prior to reopening sufficient data and protections are in place to ensure the safety of our members, their families and the public. The only guideline in a boardroom should be management asking themselves, 'Would I send my family - my own son or daughter - into that plant and be 100% certain they are safe?"
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