Saluting 3,000 Toledo Jeep Workers to `Return-To-Work' Monday by State
Special Collection: COVID-19
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur
Congressional Record: 116th Congress
Extensions of Remarks
15 May 2020
Ms. KAPTUR. Madam Speaker, I rise today with sincere concern for the well-being of thousands of workers and include in the Record this congratulatory entry during the COVID-19 pandemic. This coming Monday thousands of plant workers, largely connected to auto manufacturing and supplier networks, will ``return to work.'' Their return is a State of Ohio decision by the Governor to allow production to resume at Fiat Chrysler in Toledo and hundreds of other Ohio manufacturing facilities. As Co-Chair of the U.S. House Auto Caucus, I represent workers who build the iconic Jeep product, vehicles from GM and Ford, and components from glass to tires and from paint to bucket seats. These plants and their workers were as instrumental in creating reliable over ground transportation during the last century in World War II that carried our Allied victory. Today they are building new hybrid and electric vehicle technologies. Ohioans build things. Workers must be allowed to do their craft in a healthy and safe environment. In their ``return to work,'' these workers likely represent the largest manufacturing workforce to restart production nearly anywhere in America. My primary concern remains the workers, their health and safety, and the absolute necessity of embarking upon a COVID-19 testing regime that will protect them, their coworkers, and their families from the spread of the dreaded Covid-19 virus even as the Governor has opened the doors to these plants. To this end, I have spent hours on end on the telephone and in meetings with top executives, union leaders, workers, health professionals, local health departments, the state health department, private and publicly operated labs. My goal: to get up and running, the testing capacity for which l have voted for and workers have been promised. But that is still largely lacking in Ohio and across our nation. I remain deeply concerned about the health and safety of Ohio's workers. I offer my full cooperation to achieve a testing regime acceptable to our workforce, medical sciences, and all concerned. Workers who enter plants across Ohio will be working at a closer density than those who live in many of our nursing homes where COVID-19 has struck with a vengeance. In the case of Toledo Jeep, workers will travel from Michigan and Indiana to work - untested and uncertain about what they face. Contact tracing will be harder without testing. Lucas County already has endured the highest number of COVID-19 related deaths in our State. We must pay attention. Today, the Veteran's Home in Sandusky was struck by the COVID-19. It only takes one person who has the virus asymptomatically to directly spread it to many others. Testing is the only way to ensure that workers can work in a safe environment. A temperature test is not sufficient. I cannot remain silent as this workforce begins not only a new week, but a new chapter in American history. I offer my full personal and financial support as l am able to work with the management and workforce representatives at the Fiat Chrysler and other facilities to embark upon necessary, free testing to assure the short and long-term health of these valuable American workers. Ours is a great nation, We must not accept less. On a personal note, our beloved father retired from the old Jeep facility on Central Avenue and our beautiful mother served the organizing committee of the original United Auto Workers unit at Champion Spark Plug, I believe our family knows firsthand what it takes to assure worker health and safety, In their memory, I take this stand for autoworkers, and all workers, who are being released to the workforce. Our great nation has the capability to safeguard the health and well-being of every person. To paraphrase a Civil War Admiral: ``Damn the Torpedoes! Full speed ahead!'' This must be our rallying cry for testing all our workers. America should accept no less than the best.
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