General Motors intended to start calling in workers to its U.S. factories starting April 27 to help prepare facilities to restart vehicle production amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But GM has not yet given a definitive date to resume production since agreeing to idle all its U.S. assembly plants in mid-March. Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles also idled their U.S. plants, all in an effort to protect workers from the coronavirus. FCA has said it intends to restart production beginning May 4.
In an alert GM sent to employees, it said it will need some workers, mostly salaried, to come back to the factories to help ready the plants. The alert was confirmed by a person inside the company who asked to not be named because there was no authorization to release the information.
Any skilled trades workers GM asks to come in will do so on a volunteer-only basis, said the person.
The alert obtained by the Free Press reads: "We are actively preparing plans to safely restart our operations. Although we have not locked in a firm restart date, we have been meeting with government officials, sharing our safety protocols with the UAW, verifying that suppliers can support our plans and ensuring we have the right resources and safety equipment for our plant. During the week of April 27, we will not run regular production. However, leaders may call back a small group of people to support our restart planning. If you are needed, you will be contacted directly by your leader. When more information becomes available, we will communicate it to you."
A spokesman for GM declined to comment on the communication, but he confirmed GM is planning the restart process.
GM said the primary focus for anyone who might be recalled will be for training on the new safety protocols.
In response to GM's employee alert April 23, UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said, when it comes to recalling workers, "UAW President Rory Gamble has said the single focus should be on the health and safety of members and the litmus test should be whether your own family member would be safe going into that plant."
Gamble has since said early May is too soon to safely send workers back into the plants, noting there is not the scientific data to conclusively show that it is safe to have members back in the workplace.