Autoworkers Walkout in Response to COVID-19

Posted by TreMon Brown on Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Autoworkers at the Jeep assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio walkout despite pressures from the UAW leadership stay on the job.

The coronavirus has turned all of our lives upside-down. While all of the major sports leagues have been shut down, why are industries like the auto industry expected to continue pumping out cars? Various white collar employees have been told to work remotely from home but what protection is offered to the blue collar workers who work on the assembly lines? While the World Health Organization recommends that people maintain a minimum distance of six feet from each other, workers on the assembly line often work in very close proximity to each other. On top of this, literally thousands of autoworkers touch the same product as it rolls down the assembly line. All that is needed is for one sick person to bring in a virus that could very quickly come in contact with many workers.

But people have not been passive in this crisis. Workers at a Fiat Chrysler assembly plant in Windsor, Canada walked off of the job on Thursday, March 12th in response to the news that one of their coworkers had tested positive for the coronavirus. This shut down production for roughly 24 hours. Several days later on Monday, March 16th, there was a smaller walkout involving 17 workers at the Fiat Chrysler paint shop in Warren, Michigan.

Ultimately, the decision to keep the auto plants open is not being made by health experts but corporate executives who only care about the bottom line, not the wellbeing of any of the workforce. We as workers cannot afford to leave our wellbeing in the hands of those that have no interest in anything but extracting as much profit as they can out of us!

Featured image credit: Anthony Lanzilote/Bloomberg News