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GM and union officials gear up to reopen the Rochester plant

General Motors

It will be back to work for hundreds of General Motors employees in Rochester on Monday. That is the date when many GM plants, closed since late March, will resume production, with new safety guidelines in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jim Glynn, GM’s vice president of global workplace safety, says for all GM plants, there will be strict protocols from the time the employees enter the parking lot. 

“Frequent hand washing, the physical distancing, the wearing of masks and eyeglasses and the added cleaning cycles that we put in place are all in combination, not necessarily one over another, but it’s a combination of all that that’s going to protect people from the virus,” Glynn said, who is an RIT graduate and worked in the local GM plant on Lexington Avenue a number of years ago.

Dan Maloney, president of UAW Local 1097, which represents about 800 unionized employees in Rochester, says he's glad for the safety practices in place, but notes that some of his members still have concerns

"Yeah, reopening, mixed bag, some are really looking forward to it, chomping at the bit to get back to work and other are very hesitant," Maloney said. "Either way it looks like the start date for first and second shift is Monday, the 18th, and third shift will be coming on the week after.”

Maloney said the union has also been working with GM management on safety protocols, and that a small  crew has been at the plant this week to start the processes needed to get the plant back in operation.

Glynn says that GM is not going to ramp up to full production all at once; it will be a phased-in process to make sure health and safety are a top priority.

"This is a measured, thoughtful phase-in and it’s going to take several weeks if not months to get back to where we were in terms of volume," Glynn said. "Again, our focus initially here is around the health and safety of our employees and helping them become more comfortable with these protocols before we worry about ramping up the full scale."

General Motors plants in Lockport and Tonawanda will also be reopening.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.