My Brothers and Sisters,
I want to start my message today by commending the brave UAW Ford, FCA and GM men and women who have stepped up and agreed to serve as paid volunteers, to go back into production facilities to begin readying them for a restart date. That effort began today, and these dedicated volunteers will play a critical role in putting our members’ safety first as we get our economy back to work. These members will be helping to ensure that the plants meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) health and safety COVID-19 protocols.
Now, we do not yet have a restart date, and I have made it very clear in the past few days that the members of the International Executive Board and myself feel strongly that it is simply too risky to consider an early May restart. Our concern here, first and foremost, is for the safety of our members and their families. And that will be the determining factor in when we feel it is safe to reopen these facilities. We will not move on this point.
We know that if we waiver, the cost in human life and suffering will be too great. History teaches us that it is always the role of the UAW to protect the working men and women of this nation. This pandemic may be unprecedented in our modern history, but our role as the protector of the working class is unwavering. We have made this clear in our discussions with each of the companies. And we will continue to work tirelessly to keep the sanctity of human life the cornerstone of our decisions.
Tomorrow is Workers Memorial Day, always a special day for our UAW family. This year, as the world is facing this extraordinary health crisis, it seems particularly important to recognize the members of our family who have lost their lives to workplace incidents or this terrible virus. I want to say on behalf of myself and the entire International Executive Board, we are humbled by your sacrifice and your loss and extend our sincerest sympathies to your families and your communities.
I’d also like to, again, recognize our frontline heroes in this extraordinary time. We’ve seen so many stories of our members stepping up in so many ways to help our communities and our nation. Today, one of the many brave UAW volunteers, Penni Cox from the GM facility in Kokomo, Indiana, was featured in an ABC news story (https://abcnews.go.com/US/gm-employees-building-ventilators-covid-19s-front-lines/story?id=70354222). Hers is but one of so many stories of sacrifice.
I will be talking to you more this week about our heroes and how we are working to navigate this next chapter in this terrible crisis.
As always, 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, heroes stories 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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