Union leaders mostly happy with autoworkers’ return to Windsor plants

Union leaders representing both FCA and Ford workers say there's always room for improvement, but so far they are happy with the way the first week back to work is shaping up with new COVID-19 safety protocols.

Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy says one issue is getting 2,000 workers from each shift into the plant while maintaining social distancing.

“The company has done a tremendous job with making sure people are safe. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely,” says Cassidy.

Workers are being encouraged to use their forearm to push through the turnstiles at Windsor Assembly Plant, which Cassidy says, are not cleaned often enough.

“However it's almost impossible to clean every single time,” says Cassidy. “I wish there was a way they could open them up and have them free wheel but the facts of the matter are there isn't. You have to card in, swipe in.”

Workers are wearing surgical masks and glasses, which also poses a concern for Cassidy as the weather warms up.

“We need to make sure people are cool,” he says. “If anybody's been in a factory and working on that line it's not an easy job. It's very tough job and it's very hot job.”

The health unit says running fans, in their current environment, is a safe option.

“We have sent that to the company and we're awaiting the answer,” says Cassidy.

Unifor Local 200 president John D'Agnolo says the Ford workers are also happy to be back.

He says the feedback he has gotten so far from the 900 workers in regards to the plant has been positive.

“They've done everything they can for you not to be within six feet of each other,” says D’Agnolo.

Ford is running one shift at each of their facilities on Drouillard and Lauzon Road.

D'Agnolo says 28 workers at the engine plant will continue making face shields for the time being, while the plant ramps up.

So far the plant has produced 300,000 and there are a lot more are on the way.

“Two and a half million we'll be making so that's exciting news. We'll be helping communities throughout Ontario and Canada.

D'Agnolo says all of his workers should be back to work within the next two weeks.

As for FCA, Cassidy expects all three shifts to be kicking at full capacity 24/7 the week after next.