WENTZVILLE, Mo. – Five employees at the General Motors Assembly Plant in Wentzville have tested positive for COVID-19, according to United Auto Workers Local 2250.
The UAW has asked GM close the plant for two weeks for deep cleaning. GM has refused.
The cases were reported this week. They are the first since workers returned last month after the plant closed in late March in response to the pandemic.
The UAW reports three workers from the body shop and two from the chassis department are infected.
The plant is massive; nearly 4,500 people work there, making GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado pickups, along with cargo vans.
GM is not releasing details about the workers, their conditions, or how they may have contracted the virus.
The company has issued a statement to Fox2/News 11 saying:
The health and safety of our Wentzville team is our first priority. Some positive cases are to be expected until there is a cure for COVID-19. But we are not commenting on individual cases publicly out of respect for our employees’ privacy. To date, we have not had any person-to-person transmission of the virus in our plants since our complete safety protocols have been put in place.
Our safety protocols are designed to help keep the virus out of our plants and prevent its spread if someone does test positive. They are working because of strong teamwork at all our manufacturing sites, including Wentzville.
The union has faith in the protocols, which include social distancing, and urges GM to rigidly enforce them and workers to steadfastly adhere to them.
Still, there’s great cause for concern.
“They have temperature screenings set up, a questionnaire at each entrance. They give everyone a fresh surgical mask,” said UAW Local 2250 President, Glenn Kage. “There’s hand sanitizer and things like that but, as everyone knows, it still can slip through all that. It’s 85 – 100 acres. It’s a big plant. That doesn’t diminish the concerns we have. The last thing we want is to see something start in one department and spread like wildfire.”
For now, the union is not fighting GM on its decision to remain open. That could change if the number of infections gets to 20 or more.