Deere, Caterpillar Policies Help Keep Plants Running Through Coronavirus Pandemic
While Detroit auto manufacturers’ unionized auto plants have been shut by the coronavirus pandemic, farm and construction gear manufacturers Deere and Caterpillar have won the support of the United Auto Workers and different unions to run their plants during the pandemic.
As U.S. states begin to ease lockdown orders and firms gear up to resume production, the policies laid down by the two heavy equipment manufacturers provide a template for returning workers to shut factories in other industries.
Giving staff sick time without penalty, temperature screenings, staggered shifts and hiring a hygiene-auditing agency are a number of the measures the two firms have taken to reassure employees to stay on manufacturing lines when many union and non-union workers balk at reporting for jobs that could expose them to the novel coronavirus.
Detroit auto manufacturers had to negotiate hard and long with the United Auto Employees, which represents their hourly staff, over how and when to restart U.S. production. The UAW blocked the auto manufacturers’ plans to reopen their factories on May 4.
The union this week signaled its members are ready to return to work at General Motors, Ford Motor, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ U.S. plants on Might 18.
By contrast, the UAW let Deere resume production at two of its plants inside days of workers testing positive for the coronavirus.