Production stopped at FCA's Sterling Heights plant amid COVID-19 concerns

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Production stopped Saturday evening at a second Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV plant in Metro Detroit amid concerns of a COVID-19 outbreak after similar worries led employees to stop working earlier this week at another site.

FCA employees stopped working Saturday evening at the Sterling Heights Assembly after a worker there was sent to be tested for the coronavirus, according to the Italian American automaker. The company said it is following its cleaning protocols at the plant that produces Ram pickup trucks, and both FCA and the United Auto Workers said they expect operations to resume Saturday night.

A line worker at Sterling Heights Assembly plant. Production stopped at the site that produces Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's Ram pickup trucks over COVID-19 concerns.

Some employees have stopped working over concerns about the virus, the company said in a statement. Some workers had health and safety concerns they wanted addressed, UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said. The plant employs nearly 7,300 workers on two shifts.

"Working with their union and FCA, they followed the protocols to deep clean, and I expect them to go to work tonight," Rothenberg said. "Health and safety is the most important thing for the UAW, and this is being addressed."

The company added: "The health and safety of our workforce has continued to be our top priority since our plants resumed production in May. ... Out of an abundance of caution, the employee's work area has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. In addition, all of our social distancing and personal protection equipment protocols have been in full use."

On Thursday afternoon, employees at FCA's Jefferson North Assembly plant on Detroit's east side refused to work after an employee was sent to be tested for the virus. After results turned up negative Friday afternoon, operations resumed.

Outcries in March from the rank-and-file contributed to the automakers' decision to shut down their plants, which remained idle for two months. Production has been ramping up since mid-May, and nearly all FCA plants are operating at full production.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble