automotive industry

Automakers mandate masks at all US plants but not requiring vaccines

Automakers mandate masks at all US plants but not requiring vaccines

GENERAL MOTORS. The new GM logo is seen on the facade of the General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan, March 16, 2021.

Rebecca Cook/Reuters

General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis say in a joint statement with the United Auto Workers union that the move is in response to US authorities' guidance related to the Delta variant

Detroit’s Big Three automakers and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union said on Tuesday, August 3, they will reinstate requirements to wear masks at all US plants, offices, and warehouses beginning on Wednesday, August 4, but are not requiring workers to be vaccinated.

The move is in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) change in COVID-19 guidance for masks for fully vaccinated people related to the Delta variant, General Motors Company, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler parent Stellantis NV said in a joint statement with the union.

Toyota Motor Corporation said effective Wednesday it will reinstate mask requirements at nearly all US facilities, with the exception of two Michigan facilities that are in counties with moderate transmission rates.

Nissan Motor Company also said Tuesday it was reinstating its mask requirements for all US employees. Volkswagen AG said it was requiring masks at US facilities in COVID-19 hot spots, while Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz US unit said it had reinstated mask requirements at US plants late last week.

The UAW does not support requiring all workers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and US automakers have not mandated vaccines. The union and automakers are strongly encouraging workers to get vaccinated.

“We are urging all UAW members and their families to get vaccinated. The science is telling us very clearly that the only way to get back to normal is to reach a heightened level of immunity,” UAW president Ray Curry told members in a letter Tuesday. “However, we also know that for some, there are religious and health reasons for not getting vaccinated.”

The CDC said last week fully vaccinated people should wear masks indoors in public spaces in places with substantial or high COVID-19 community transmission rates. The CDC said on Monday, August 2, that almost 80% of US counties are now at those levels.

In June, the US automakers and UAW announced that fully vaccinated workers at their US factories would not have to wear masks on the job beginning on July 12. Numerous automakers operating in the United States had already begun lifting pandemic mask mandates as cases declined.

Other companies as well as federal, state, and local governments are putting more pressure on individuals to get vaccinated. New York City on Tuesday said it will require proof of vaccination for people engaged in indoor activities such as dining, working out in a gym, or seeing a show.

Meat packer Tyson Foods said it will require workers to get COVID-19 vaccinations, joining companies including Walt Disney and Walmart in instituting such a requirement for some parts of their workforces.

US President Joe Biden has ordered workers at federal agencies to get vaccinated or submit to regular testing. –