In picking dates to restart idled factories across North America, automakers are attempting to balance worker safety with financial stability. They book revenue as vehicles are produced, and their cash reserves shrink with each day plants remain dark. But whenever production resumes, fear of COVID-19 could still linger among the work force.
The decisions are becoming even more difficult as the number of blue-collar workers who test positive for the virus — and die from it — grows.
“There is going to be some risk/reward calculation about when we go back to work, how we go back to work and what changes about that work,” said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. “It would be really hard to go back into a plant when you know someone who contracted the disease and died.”
Plants are like small cities where word travels fast. Workers could be shunned if colleagues find out they’ve been exposed to…