UAW requests meeting with Jeep maker over Detroit plant violation

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

The United Auto Workers has requested an immediate meeting with the maker of Jeep SUVs after the new Stellantis assembly plant in Detroit was issued an emissions violation by the state of Michigan.

“We have been in discussions on the air quality among other issues that impact the community with Stellantis and are presently requesting a meeting immediately to discuss the latest violations," UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada said in a statement Thursday.

Eddie Baldwin, production operator, prepares to install a door for a 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L at the Stellantis Mack Assembly Complex in Detroit on Thursday, June 10, 2021.

The plant last week received its second violation in as many months from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy following complaints from neighbors of a paint smell coming from the east-side assembly plant that produces the Grand Cherokee L three-row SUV. Detroiters living in the Mack Assembly Plant's shadow say they are worried about the potential effect on their and their families' health.

"Our membership is just as concerned with the health (and) safety of our community as the safety of our plants," Estrada said. "Environmental justice goes hand in hand with workers justice. They are one in the same for the UAW.”

EGLE Air Quality Division staff members last month observed moderate-to-strong odors coming from the plant after neighbors complained. That was followed by an inspection earlier this month during which staff found emissions from vehicle paints were not being ducted to a regenerative thermal oxidizer, a system that breaks down the potentially hazardous compounds. The ducting is a requirement of the plant's permit.

The Mack Assembly Plant was down for the first three days of the week due to a shortage of microchips. It was slated to resume production on Thursday.

"The plant has been and continues to be in full compliance with the permitted emissions limits," Stellantis spokeswoman Jodi Tinson previously said in a statement. "We will work to address this issue promptly."

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble