June 13, 2024

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Whitmer issues warning to auto industry: How it’s reacting

A truck waits to load at General Motors Flint Assembly on May 18, 2020, during the first day back to work since the plant closed due to COVID-19.

General Motors’ Flint Assembly plant is running full-on as its 5,000 hourly workers push to meet pent-up demand for the heavy-duty Silverado and Sierra pickups GM builds there.

The plant, along with all of the Detroit Three’s U.S. factories, sat idle for about eight weeks this spring as the coronavirus pandemic surged, putting production behind.

So Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s warning this week that she could shut down auto factories in Michigan once again if residents don’t obey her order to wear masks to slow the spread of COVID-19 has sent the auto industry into a tailspin.

Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, left, speaks with Governor Gretchen Whitmer before GM CEO Mary Barra announces a $300 million  investment in the Orion Township Assembly Plant Friday, March 22, 2019 that will add 400 jobs for new Chevrolet Electric Vehicle  .

“There’s a future at risk. This is our future,” said Eric Welter, UAW Local 598 shop chairman who represents the workers at Flint Assembly. “There is market demand right now. People want our product and if we don’t deliver that product, that’s our job security. So we have to push on, do it safely, but product demand is job security.”