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COVID-19

As carmakers restart factories, they look at steps to protect workers from COVID-19

Erika Beras May 18, 2020
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There are about 1,500 workers on a typical shift in a car factory, according to one industry analyst. Scott Olson/Getty Images
COVID-19

As carmakers restart factories, they look at steps to protect workers from COVID-19

Erika Beras May 18, 2020
Heard on:
There are about 1,500 workers on a typical shift in a car factory, according to one industry analyst. Scott Olson/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The auto industry is starting to reopen, and as factories prepare for manufacturing to rev up again, companies say they are taking steps to try to keep workers safe from getting or spreading COVID-19.

About 30,000 parts go into manufacturing a vehicle, and there are about 1,500 workers on a typical shift, according to Kristin Dziczek with the Center for Automotive Research. So, as factories reopen, companies are going to have to take special precautions to keep employees apart.

Dziczek says that might mean changing the way two workers install seat belts. “They may redesign that job, so that somebody is installing the right seat belt anchor inside the car while someone else is doing something on the left side of the vehicle, on the outside,” she said.

Among the steps General Motors says it will take: providing additional protective gear and taking workers’ temperatures when they arrive. Arthur Wheaton, with the Worker Institute at Cornell, says that in order to administer all those screenings, companies need to make adjustments.

“You may have some staggered start and stop times, you may have people arriving at different intervals or different places and they may have more than one entrance,” Wheaton said.

If the companies want to keep manufacturing, they have to make these changes. Not manufacturing is costing the car companies billions.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Give me a snapshot of the labor market in the U.S.

U.S. job openings in February increased more than expected, according to the Labor Department. Also, the economy added over 900,000 jobs in March. For all of the good jobs news recently, there are still nearly 10 million people who are out of work, and more than 4 million of them have been unemployed for six months or longer. “So we still have a very long way to go until we get a full recovery,” said Elise Gould with the Economic Policy Institute. She said the industries that have the furthest to go are the ones you’d expect: “leisure and hospitality, accommodations, food services, restaurants” and the public sector, especially in education.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

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