My Sisters and Brothers,
As we come together at the end of another week, I want to talk a little about what you may have seen in the news and in my messages over these past few days. What is dominating the news cycles, the stock market, our state and local governments and all of our conversations across all sectors is how do we stay safe as we plan for a restart of our economy.
And I know, my brothers and sisters, that this is at the forefront of your thoughts and your concerns. When will I go back to work and what will happen?
Now I don’t claim to have a crystal ball and these are truly unprecedented times, but I do know — and the experts have been very clear on this — that if we restart too early, it will be calamitous for all of us. For me, it comes down to one simple question. It’s the same question that I asked when we demanded that the Big 3 and others close production last month. Will our members be safe? If the answer is ‘No’, then our course is clear.
And so this week, I asked that question again of all of our companies in all of our sectors. I know truckers and others doing essential services are being asked back to work. But these decisions cannot be dictated by economics or stock prices or market conditions. They must be dictated by science and the safety of our working men and women. And based on that, which is the only criteria the International Executive Board and I are using, I feel the scientific data is not conclusive at this point and it is too risky for our members, their families and our communities to support a quick return to work in early May.
We must get this right. The stakes, in human lives and suffering, are simply too high. Experts have told us that there is not enough testing to understand the threat our members will face when they return to work. We must be confident that we have the scientific data to ensure that we have health protocols and enhanced protections in place before one single UAW member steps back into their worksite.
I will have more on this next week, as we are continuing to work with companies across all sectors for each and every one of our members. The decision to restart production contractually rests with the companies. However, we will continue to maintain a zero tolerance position as it relates to the health and safety of our members and do all that we can to ensure their safety. We will stay the course and be vigilant about what we expect in terms of health and safety and responsible re-opening of this economy based on science and experts.
As with so many of my messages, I have sad news to report. We have lost a 30-year member of UAW local 379 from Jacobs Vehicle Systems in Bloomfield, Connecticut. Our heartfelt sympathies go to the family and friends.
I urge you again to stay safe, continue to support one another and adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV. For more updates and questions that you may have about your worksite, visit https://uaw.org/coronavirus/.
We are all in this together.
Rory L. Gamble
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