The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has said that a member from the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP) died from the COVID-19 (or Coronavirus) virus. This comes a week after FCA’s decision to halt the production of its popular 2020 Ram 1500 pickup at the facility after a SHAP employee tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Soon after, FCA, as well as Ford Motor Company and General Motors, announced temporarily closing all of their plants in North America amid the COVID-19 crisis.
UAW President Rory Gamble said in a press release that the SHAP employee was one of two FCA union workers to die from the COVID-19 virus, the other being from the FCA Kokomo, Indiana plant. The UAW released the official statement below…
My Brothers and Sisters,
I have much to update you on today as we all work through this very difficult time. First of all, I want to extend sincere sympathies from myself and the entire International Executive Board for the families of two of our members, one at FCA Kokomo, IN, and one at FCA Sterling Heights, MI, who have lost their lives to this virus. This is a terrible tragedy for our entire UAW family.
I want you to know that we are working around the clock with companies in every sector, health officials and governmental agencies across this nation to keep our members and our communities safe. This week, as of March 23, 2020, we succeeded in finally getting American Axle and Manufacturing to close the Fraser, MI, facility after a worker tested positive at that location. I’m sorry to say there was a great deal of resistance from the company. I want to recognize the tireless work of our plant chairperson, Trent DeSenglau; our Region 1 Director Frank Stuglin; and our other brothers and sisters at this location in helping us get the company to close this plant.
We had some other positive news today. Working with the Ford Motor Company, we got the announcement that they will not be reopening plants on March 30, as was originally planned, due to numerous stay-at-home orders from government officials. We commend Ford for this action. FCA has told us that they intend to comply with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order and have no plans to reopen on March 30. We are waiting to hear from GM and are demanding that they put our members’ safety first and adhere to government and health officials’ recommendations to stay-at-home. We will keep you updated.
In another positive development, the UAW and Ford Motor Company will be collaborating to find ways to help improve and protect lives across the country during this crisis. And, news from the UAW GM department announced a collaboration with the company to produce much-needed ventilators to help save lives.
I know so many of our friends and family members are scared and experiencing tremendous difficulties and challenges during this unprecedented time. The UAW is doing everything in our power to keep everyone safe and move forward in the best possible way to stem the spread of this terrible virus.
I also want to, once again, thank those brave Americans on the front lines of this crisis, our health care workers, health and safety workers, essential workers, firefighters, police, and security – everyone who is so courageously showing up to work to keep us safe and keep the nation going.
I must ask again that we all try to remain calm, we all support one another and please, follow the stay-at-home precautions in your area to the extent that you are able. Please adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations on protecting yourself and others from the virus.
For more information, please see the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV) and UAW (https://uaw.org/coronavirus/). The UAW landing page includes an email for our members to ask questions. We are working diligently to provide you with the most up to date information.
Again, we truly are in this together. Please support one another.
Rory L. Gamble