Volkswagen resumes Tennessee production starting May 17

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) _ Volkswagen announced Wednesday it will resume production at its Tennessee auto assembly plant in phases starting Sunday after a nearly two-month hiatus due to the coronavirus.

The German automaker said its Chattanooga factory will require various virus precautions including a temporary ban on visitors, temperature screenings for everyone entering the plant, new masks for employees and contractors daily and a face-covering requirement most of the time.

The plant halted production March 21. Production and maintenance workers were furloughed April 11 and still have received health care benefits and coverage of premiums.

Volkswagen Chattanooga employs about 3,800 people. All production and maintenance workers and contractors will return with staggered shift start times, company spokesperson Amanda Plecas said.

At the General Motors facility with 3,800 workers in Spring Hill, a skeleton crew has returned to new precautions, said Mike Herron, bargaining chairman for United Auto Workers Local 1853. Body and paint work will begin next week and regular production will start May 26, said GM spokesperson Courtney Jackson.

Herron said second-shift workers will return June 1, and third-shift ones will come back at an unannounced date.

The Nissan plant in Smyrna, with 7,000-plus workers, hasn’t announced a date to resume production yet.