FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – As leaders at manufacturing companies, like General Motors Fort Wayne Assembly, consider the plans to get back into operations, the governor’s office has started to look at what restrictions and guidelines need to be in put place, ensuring workers are safe. According to Governor Eric Holcomb, it’s the next priority his task force has planned to take on in the week ahead.
“We’ll be looking at, for different businesses, what are these new requirements and standards,” Holcomb told WANE 15 Friday. “We have got a binder full of information that different sectors, industries and businesses have sent us, and some have posted, whether it’s elected medical procedures, surgeries, manufacturing, construction, transportation, logistics… they have sent us their plans. They deal with clean spaces, hygienic advances that they’re putting into place to make sure that a safe workplace, equates to, in large part, to a healthy workforce. This is not just a balance, but a necessity in this new normal that we find ourselves in.”
Holcomb said the plans for the businesses will eventually be posted for all to see. He added that some of those ideas could include the requirement of a barrier to be put in place, if a co-worker is closer than six feet away.
“Making sure that individuals have a good policy so that they’re not punished for missing work when they are sick,” Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box added. “That there should be reinforcement for staying home, that they have the ability to miss those days. Those are key things when you go forward as an agency.”
Senator Mike Braun emphasized the point that the highest risk of spreading the virus has come from medium and large businesses. He said if one person gets hundreds of co-workers sick, it could derail an entire company, adding that the thought should be enough incentive for a company to follow guidance from the state.
“They’ve been paying attention to the rules,” Braun said about the companies he has talked to. “They do know for this to be successful, when we pivot to a smart restart, that there’s going to need to be discipline, that there’s no relaxing. The self-incentive to make sure that happens is there, because they know if they get sloppy, they backslide, it would impact them, their employees and their customers.”
Leaders at General Motors have started working on a plan to bring back employees to the lines, after a month-long stoppage.
“A lot of planning is underway to safely restart production and we are in regular contact with our suppliers, the UAW and our manufacturing team,” a statement from Fort Wayne Assembly spokesperson Stephanie Jentgen shared with WANE 15 read. “This includes notifying a small number of team members, primarily salaried and skilled trades employees, that we may need them to report to work soon. But we have not announced a restart date. When people do return to work, whether for planning or for regular production, we will be using screening, cleaning and social strategies at all our facilities that were designed using the best medical and scientific data available, including guidance from the CDC.”
The president of United Auto Workers, Rory Gamble has said an early May restart date is too early.