Automotive Industry’s response to COVID-19 pandemic and workers
April 20, 2020, By John Turcios
As the pandemic continues to affect many companies around the world, many automakers are taking measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19. Many US automakers and European companies have suspended work and production due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Auto companies such as Ford and Kia shut down all the European and North American production in March to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Tesla closed down their plant in Fremont, California, and announced ventilator production could start but instead have provided assistance to hospitals by delivering breathing machines to hospitals.
Other auto companies such as General Motors, Fiat, and Mazda have also shut down operations. The issue here is that thousands of workers are left without jobs during this shutdown period. According to NBC News, for every seven-day period that consumers stop buying vehicles, the U.S economy would lose roughly 94,400 jobs and $7.3 billion in overall earnings. Many workers are being laid off and they have no other choice but to apply for unemployment benefits. However, companies and unions are responding to workers.
The big three auto companies, Ford, General Motors, and Fiat are working with the United Auto Workers Union to respond to the situation. They are looking for a way to protect hourly workers from the coronavirus without shutting down their U.S parts and assembly lines. During this period, they also announced workers will receive free medical care to ensure workers can stay protected from the coronavirus. In addition, auto companies explain that employees will be eligible to apply for government support such as enhanced unemployment benefits. The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to affect auto companies and workers. However, these companies along with the auto workers union are ensuring workers and production are safe from the spread of the virus. This will be important to ensure automakers will be able to restart without any issues after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.