Louisville factory workers claim ‘shoulder to shoulder’ work conditions, concerned COVID-19 will spread

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Ford announced it is temporarily closing all North American facilities after Thursday’s evening shift until March 30 after a worker at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant tested positive for COVID-19. 

Factory workers in Louisville are worried about the the same thing happening in their facilities.

Ford said in a statement sent to WHAS11 that they are exploring unique and creative solutions to support workers and customers. Workers at UPS and GE Appliances have also reached out to WHAS11 concerned about conditions at their workplaces.

“They’re not caring about us but they’re caring about washers and dryers,” a GE Appliances said who asked WHAS11 reporters to hide her identity over fears she could lose her job. 

She claimed only a few buildings on the campus are shut down, and despite the CDC’s recommendations, she claimed they are working shoulder to shoulder. 

“Our line is over 50,” she said. “We’re elbow to elbow, we are having anxiety attacks and there’s a lady who has a son with health issues.”

In a statement sent to WHAS11 GE spokesperson, Julie Wood said “Our cleaning and sanitization efforts have increased significantly in our plants, and we are making physical changes to our buildings to decrease touchpoints. We continue to answer employee questions and share hygiene best practices.”

However, employees said when they reached out to their managers they were told business will run as normal. 

With daycares and schools closed, employees are worried about their families.

“It’s a lot of people in there that don’t have childcare, especially starting next week they won’t have babysitters,” another GE employee said who asked WHAS11 reporters to hide his identity over fears he could lose his job.” Some people take care of their elderly parents,” he said. 

The workers said they are afraid calling out could cost them their jobs. 

WHAS11 also took similar concerns to UPS. A spokesperson for the company said in a a statement, they’re working to clean break rooms and other common areas.

GE released the following statement to WHAS11 on March 17:

At GE Appliances, we are committed to the well-being of our employees and the communities where they live and work. Following global health guidance from the CDC and WHO, it is our goal to alleviate anticipated stress on the healthcare system and to flatten the curve of the virus. During this uncertain time of global pandemic, GE Appliances has made the decision to voluntarily reduce manufacturing operations.

We are reducing production at many of our facilities and will focus on critical products our country needs. We provide important products and services to people across this country while Americans are spending more time at home. Americans rely on our products to keep their food and medicine safe, homes clean and to cook meals for their families.

The last normal operations for the following locations will be after second shift on Thursday, March 19. Starting with first shift Friday, March 20 through Friday, April 3, we will reduce shifts or temporarily suspend operations at these locations:

Louisville, KY

•    AP1 – operating 1 washer line and 1 dryer line on day shift

•    AP3 – operating 1 line on day shift

•    AP4 – reduced operations to support ongoing manufacturing 

•    AP5 – halting production

Lafayette, GA

•    Roper Corporation – 1 line per shift

Decatur, AL

•    Decatur Plant Operations – 1 line per shift

Selmer, TN

•    Monogram LLC – halting production

Our distribution centers remain operational to provide parts and inventory to our customers. We will continue delivery and service of appliances while taking precautionary measures to protect our employees and consumers while providing these critical services. 

RELATED: Ford temporarily suspends production through March 30

RELATED: Detroit’s 3 automakers agree to partial factory shutdowns amid coronavirus concerns

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