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GM, Ford, UAW confirm May 18 as the date to reopen plants

General Motors is following an orderly people-first process to reopening its factories. The company is working with its union and local health officials. Earlier this week, GM told employees “significant planning is under way to safely restart production” of vehicles.

The company issued this official statement:

Based on conversations and collaboration with unions and government officials, GM is targeting to restart the majority of manufacturing operations on May 18 in the US and Canada under extensive safety measures.

The May 18 restart date allows the weekend to pass after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order is lifted on May 15. GM said it will conduct extensive screening, cleaning, and social distancing strategies to keep workers safe.

“Where our coronavirus safety protocols have been in place, we have not seen a confirmed case of community spread in our facilities,” said Mary Barra, GM’s chief executive.

Ford is also calling back approximately 71,000 hourly and salaried workers during the week of May 18, with an estimated 59,300 workers returning to work in the US, and 5,300 in Canada, and 6,775 in Mexico, said Kelli Felker, Ford global manufacturing and communications manager.

UAW vice president Terry Dittes told union members that “some locations may open earlier than the target date to fill the supply chain to build product.”

“We’re making sure we have all of our parts in place,” said Felker. “There’s a lot going on to make sure these safety protocols are right, so people understand what to expect when they do come back.”

Also, Ford will continue making personal protection equipment. In fact, the Detroit Three have all been preparing for the restart factories by testing safety protocols in the plants that have remained in operation to produce personal protection equipment and ventilators.

Electrek’s Take

As a Bolt driver, I’m glad to see the leadership of the factory where my car was made show respect to the workers, the community, and local health officials.

That said, GM deserves the criticism it gets about its slow move to EVs, ongoing production of gas guzzlers, and siding with Donald Trump in the battle with California over clean-air laws.

But I respect how it’s handling the COVID crisis, especially how it’s working with union officials to ensure worker safety. From my perspective, that buys them a lot of slack to make progress with its EVs.

So kudos to GM. (But c’mon. Speed it up with those 10 EVs in the works, would you?)

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Avatar for Bradley Berman Bradley Berman

Bradley writes about electric cars, autonomous vehicles, smart homes, and other tech that’s transforming society. He contributes to The New York Times, SAE International, Via magazine, Popular Mechanics, MIT Technology Review, and others.