(Hammond, IN) - They were back to work for just a few days when told during their shift Wednesday morning to go home because of another COVID-19 infection at the plant in Hammond.
That’s according to employees at Lear Corp., a maker of automobile seats for the Ford Motor Co. assembly plant across the state line in the Hegewisch neighborhood of Chicago.
Lear workers called back Sunday reported safety precautions like testing and taking the temperature of employees coming into the plant was in place but felt not enough was being done to ease their concerns.
“I can literally touch your shoulder by not even extending my arm and that’s how close I am to you in that place,” said an assembly line worker asking to remain anonymous.
Another worker not wanting to be identified said remaining six feet apart from each other as instructed by the company is possible only in some areas of the 240,000 square foot plant at 2204 Michigan St.
“They tell us to social distance but that’s hard to do. We’re all on top of each other on the lines,” the worker said. Lear when reached on Wednesday did not immediately respond.
But, according to the United Auto Workers Local 2335, the company planned to resume operations Wednesday for the night shift after the plant was disinfected by a Centers for Disease Control approved contractor. Initially, the plant employing 875 workers currently on the clock for two 12-hours shifts closed March 17 for a deep cleaning after the company reported a worker turned up positive for the virus.
The shutdown was extended, though, when Lear revealed a second COVID-19 infection.
According to day shift workers, they were told about 9 a.m. to go home again until further notice because of a case of COVID-19.
Workers expressed concern about the new safety protocols at the 240,000 square foot plant were not as strict as they should be or enforced consistently.
Masks, for example, were not being worn by everyone at the plant and employees, instead of cleaning professionals, we're expected to do some of the sanitizing for the next shift, the workers said.
Workers said the inside of the plant was also being fogged but with many people touching even the smallest parts moving through the plant they wondered if any method is guaranteed to keep them safe. “I’m not saying close for the rest of the time being but until they get it under control someway, somehow,” a worker said.