Automotive shutdowns seem to be extending and are now kind of open-ended. Mexico is starting to implement restrictions and our plant in San Miguel will likely be shut down soon. We are awaiting legal interpretation of the latest order from the government down there.
There is good news in the new CARES act for those on unpaid leave. The act will allow for the extension of State unemployment benefits for up to 39 weeks. In addition to that, the federal government will pay an additional $600 per week to the unemployed. That’s on top of your state unemployment benefit, even if you were making less than this while working. This means that most of our hourly employees will be making more money on unemployment than they were when employed. This additional benefit starts on March 27 and extends through July 31, however we are not sure when you will see payment of the additional $600 from the federal government.
Wash your hands, don’t touch your face and stay at home as much as you can.
Monday, March 30 Update
Still no cases in Mason County.
President Trump extended the recommended social distancing to the end of April. We’re not sure what that means for UACJ Whitehall operations, but that should become apparent soon as the State of Michigan and our customers react to the extension.
We have received information about the recently passed CARES act. It is 900 pages long, but we will be reviewing a summary and posting relevant information tomorrow. The best news is that unemployment benefits will be substantially improved. I’m sure this comes as good news to those employees who are on unpaid leave.
One of my friends forwarded to me an hour long video by a ICU Doctor in New York who spends 12 hours per day attending to COVID-19 patients, including those on respirators. The main takeaway for me was that the two most important things are: 1. wash your hands often and after touching things outside your house at the grocery store or whatever and 2. Don’t touch your face with your hands because the disease enters through your mouth, nose or throat.
Stay safe and try to enjoy your time at home.
A bit of a slow news day for us. Generally automakers are extending their shutdowns by maybe a week. Tesla announced a staff reduction of 75% in Reno. I guess the rest of the people are required to make battery packs for their Shanghai, China plant in operation.
Quoting activity is still high in the EV area. Things are moving along well with the new Honda and Toyota business. We are launching a lot of new Tesla Model Y and Model 3 business, but it will be delayed a bit by our shut down. Overall, our long term future looks very good. We may have some lean orders for the rest of the year, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Now that the US House has passed the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, we will need to have our labor law firm explain it to us. We’ll be having a call on Monday and we should be able to shed some light on what it means for our employees and our business overall on Tuesday.
I think that in one of my updates from last week I said that we would be announcing our annual wage changes, bonus and profit sharing today. I just wanted to re-iterate what I said earlier this week : bonuses will be paid today, but we were going to have to wait and see the impact of the coronavirus has on our overall business before deciding what to do about wage/salary increases and profit sharing.
I hope everyone is doing well. It’s nice to have some blue sky and sun today. Wash your hands, stay away from others, and have a great weekend. Hopefully we’ll be getting back to work very soon.
The Paducah plant will be closed tonight at 8pm.
Michigan is up to 2856 cases, but still none reported in Mason County. Oceana county reported their first case.
GM notified us that we have been awarded the GM 2019 Supplier Excellence Award. Great job everyone!
Tesla told us that they were going to be shut down for another week, until April 12. , Toyota and Aisin have announced extending their shutdowns also. This all impacts the amount of business we will have in the short term, but since we are all shutting down at the same time, maybe the amount of work we have when we come back won’t be drastically reduced.
The US Senate passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus response stimulus bill, which has to go through the House of Representatives before the President can sign it into Law. It is intended to help workers and businesses affected by the shut downs. We will keep you posted on what the law means for UACJ Whitehall employees.
Stay safe and do your best to help control the spread of the virus.
President and COO
Today’s major change is that Kentucky’s Governor has announced a stay at home order similar to the one in Michigan, beginning Thursday at 8pm. We will fully comply with the Governor’s order.
Driving around Ludington today, I have noticed a number of businesses that appear to be in full operation. Great Lakes Castings, a foundry, for example, seems to be in full operation. Certain businesses are considered essential and are exempt from the stay at home order. Grocery stores, gas stations, trucking companies and pharmacies are examples of clearly essential businesses. Whether auto manufacturing is considered exempt is not so clear. Some of our automotive customers are telling us that we are essential and we need to keep making their parts. At this point, we are considering ourselves to be a non-essential operation and are complying with the governor’s orders in Michigan and Kentucky. Clearly warehousing and shipping are exempt, so we can load inventory onto trucks for shipment, and we will be doing this when necessary.
The HR department has completed this week’s very complicated and time consuming payroll entry, including bonuses. You should be able to see this week’s pay information in the ADP system as of now.
There is a lot going on in Congress with a giant stimulus package, but we are still awaiting the final details. Undoubtedly it will involve enhanced and extended unemployment benefits.
In Kentucky, your supervisor and/or HR will be asking you if you would like to use any vacation before seeking unemployment benefits. Health insurance coverage will continue during the stay at home period with no premiums. This is expected to last three weeks in Michigan and at least 10 days in Kentucky.
President & COO
Yesterday was quite a day. I guess we saw it coming, but we didn’t think it would be this soon or so fast. We had only a few hours to react.
Thanks to all those involved for getting 8 trucks of badly needed Tesla parts out the door by midnight!
Today’s the first day that everyone is at home. Those who can are working from home.
Stephanie and Ellen worked late last night and all morning to get the bonuses calculated and payroll in, so responses to people questions have been delayed. They will begin responding to questions this afternoon, and we will be giving them some additional resources to make sure we turn around questions as fast as we can.
The Website this message will be posted on our website each day if there is anything new to report.
I can answer a few of the most common questions :
- What about health insurance ? Your healthcare coverage will continue as is during the three week stay at home period. For those on unpaid leave, we will not require medical premiums during this three week period to be repaid.
- Good Friday Holiday : This holiday falls within the stay at home period. We are going to move this paid vacation day to later in the year. Maybe at Christmas time, maybe as a floating holiday chosen by the employees. If we pay the vacation day it will reduce the unemployment benefit of those who receive it.
- Can I use my vacation or PMLA – yes, like my memo yesterday said. It will affect unemployment benefits, though. We’d like to know each employee’s wishes by the end of the week so we can get payroll done on time.
President & COO