UAW says two workers with confirmed COVID-19 infections have died

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FCA CEO MIKE MANLEY visited the company’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan last month. The plant was later idled after a worker there tested positive for the virus.

Detroit — Two Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) factory employees who tested positive for COVID-19 have died, a UAW spokesperson said last week. They are the first U.S. auto plant workers known to have died after contracting the virus.

One of the employees worked at FCA’s Ram pickup plant in Sterling Heights, Mich. The other worked at a plant in Kokomo, Ind.

It was unclear whether they were the same two workers who were already known to have tested positive earlier this month at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant and the Kokomo Transmission plant.

Another worker at FCA’s Warren Truck Assembly Plant near Detroit also died. The UAW said was unclear whether the worker had tested positive for COVID-19, but “we do know he was being treated for it,” a spokesman said.

“I want to extend sincere sympathies from myself and the entire International Executive Board for the families of two of our members … who have lost their lives to this virus,” UAW President Rory Gamble said in a statement. “This is a terrible tragedy for our entire UAW family.”

Gamble said he knows that “so many of our friends and family members are scared and experiencing tremendous difficulties and challenges during this unprecedented time. The UAW is doing everything in our power to keep everyone safe and move forward in the best possible way to stem the spread of this terrible virus.”

The Big Three automakers agreed, under pressure from the UAW, to shutter their U.S. assembly plants late last month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before the decision to close the plants, FCA had briefly shut the Sterling Heights plant after a worker there was found to have contracted the virus. Reports of a worker at Kokomo Transmission testing positive emerged March 12. A technical support worker at FCA’s Auburn Hills, Mich., headquarters also died after testing positive for the virus.

(Information from Automotive News.)


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