Waterville layoff continues until at least May 18


Workers at Waterville TG will be off the job until at least May 18.
And union officials say when they return, it will be a massive change.
Six hundred employees were first laid off March 20, when management said through a news release the move was for the maximum protection of their employees as well as the public as the COVID-19 pandemic first began to unfold.
The workers were supposed to be back on the job by March 30. The layoff was then extended to April 6 and then another week after that. At Easter, the workers got the news they would be back on the job Thursday, April 30 to make enough auto parts for the car companies which are expecting to start production May 4, according to Daren Brown, the plant chairman for UAW Local 251.
But the workers won’t be going back for at least two weeks, says Brown.
“The layoff has been extended further. Latest dates are May 18 and May 25.
Brown says the company plans to stagger the opening with about a quarter of the staff returning May 18.
“Different customers starting back up at different times,” he says.
The rest of the employees would return May 25.
But Brown is quick to note that could change again depending on the Big Three Automakers time tables.
“There is always a possibility of start being put off again,” he says.
When the workers do return, Waterville will look a lot different. Brown says the company has been taking a lot of time to make sure the workers will be at a safe distance from each other to continue the social distancing which is required to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“I have been on a plant tour last week that took three hours,” he says. Members of the Health and Safety Committee say first hand some of the new safety measures including one way traffic in all possible areas including for pedestrians.
There are cleaning stations in many areas including hand sanitizer, floor and walls now bear tape showing safe distance measurements and there is “lots of plexiglass at work stations,” he says.
“It is going to be a massive change for team members to become accustomed to upon return,.”