KOKOMO, Ind. - The Big 3 automakers, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, started shutting down manufacturing plants across the country in an effort to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. United Auto Workers Local 685 confirmed one person who worked at a Chrysler plant in Kokomo tested positive for the Coronavirus.
The auto manufacturing industry is the biggest employer in Howard County, according to UAW Local 685 President Rick Ward. It provides jobs for approximately 10,000 people in Kokomo.
The announcement of the factories shutting down for the foreseeable future understandably put the community on edge, but local union leaders contend it had to be done.
"We're a big part of this community and we owe it to the community," Ward said. "We're the biggest and we need to lead in safety, and we're doing that now."
This UAW said they will keep their union hall doors open to the people they serve to make sure questions are answered and the unemployment paperwork is filled out correctly. The union shared a message on its website and YouTube page, local685.org.
"They won't be able to get 40 hours," Ward said of this short week. "Then we've got sub-employment and unemployment that they'll be able to file for next week."
The union said more information will come out soon. To get the information as quickly as possible, they urge people to follow along on the UAW Local 685 Facebook page and local685.org.