Workers returned to the Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green yesterday for the first time since the plant closed down on March 20th due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Initially billed as a two-week shutdown, the closure of the Bowling Green Assembly Plant lasted over two months.
There was little fanfare with the return as General Motors has been taking precautions in keeping workers safe through active monitoring and mandatory wearing of masks and safety goggles. So far, GM has been successful as its facilities have reopened around the world without incident.
The Corvette assembly line will be moving slower than usual this week as plant workers get back up to speed with their assignments while working within the safety protocols that have been stressed. As for greater social distancing between co-workers, UAW Local 2164 President Jack Bowers says it’s impossible in a production setting. “I’m worried about the safety of our workers, but we do have to produce a product,” Bowers said in an interview with WKYU-FM, and he adds “There are two sides to every story.”
The plant will be ramping up production with around 550 first shift workers building the 2020 Corvettes and the second shift is expected to come online in early July. Those first shift workers who returned yesterday were based on seniority. When the plant returns to full production capacity, it will have 1,200 employees back to work.
There were some 230 or so current builds that were left unfinished when the plant closed in March. All the unfinished Corvettes on the line were wrapped up tight in plastic sheeting as they waited for production to restart. Based on what we are hearing about production quantities ramping up, we are speculating that it could take a couple weeks before we see those finished and new builds starting.
UAW Local 2614 Shop Chairman Jason Watson believes they are in a good place to weather the economic downturn from the COVID-19 shutdowns:
“I believe this next model year is going to be just as busy, if not busier, because quite honestly, there may be numerous customers who can’t get a 2020 because of availability,” Watson told WKU Public Radio. “I think we have a bright future at Bowling Green.”
General Motors Halting Production in North America Through March 30th
Chevrolet to Build Even More 2020 Corvettes Upon Return to Manufacturing
Corvette Assembly Plant to Commence Gradual Restart Beginning May 26th