Educational Materials
Labor History
Work Curriculum
Events & Programs
Film Series
Labor Lyceum
Special Events
Union Label
Labor Links
Rochester CLC History
Rochester CLC Book

VISIT Introducing Labor  Films at LaborFilms.org

Film still The Navigators movie

SEE Rochester: A  Community of Workers  Photo Exhibit

machinist at work

COVID-19 and Rochester Labor

UAW Local 1097

Interview with Dan Maloney (President, United Auto Workers Local 1097), 12 February 2021

On March 23, 2020, the Lexington Avenue GM plant shut down to deal with the impact of COVID and remained closed until May 18. (The third shift returned May 25). When the plant reopened — workers in the transportation sector having been designated "essential" — the UAW and GM had negotiated important changes:

  • morning 'huddles' were introduced to report on plant status issues such as cleaning
  • six-foot distances had been marked on the plant floor
  • COVID leave and contact tracing policies were in place
  • UAW members were being signed up for COVID-related unemployment
  • Protective equipment and work safety instructions were being provided by GM
  • Arrangements were in place regarding downtime and the hiring of thirty COVID temp workers to relieve quarantined workers

The UAW also created a page on its website related to COVID.

The Local 1097 Hall has stayed open to members, with a benefits representative on hand to help answer members' questions.  The hall is cleaned daily.  At the local plant, labor and management reps together tour the facility to ensure all precautions are in place. Workers entering the plant are screened for symptoms and provided with sanitizer and masks. The message is emphasized that workers who feel at all ill must stay home.

The plant also installed (with non-union labor) new water dispensers to fill bottles and, in August, adjusted all fans to blow downward rather than across the workplace.  Where needed, plexiglass was installed between work areas and also in the cafeteria, where food is either pre-packaged or made to phone orders.

When vaccines became available, members were able to receive inoculation by in-plant nurses who are UAW members.

Nevertheless, some seventy workers were out with COVID on any given day. President Maloney himself was briefly stricken in December. So far UAW 1097 has experienced no COVID-related deaths.

An unanticipated outcome of the pandemic is GM's decision to lease part of the plant — mothballed by the auto industry's shift away from fossil fuel — to a non-union company which will manufacture face-masks, paying approximately three hundred workers $16.67 per hour.



COVID-19 and Rochester Labor

Prefatory Notes




Read the Interviews

NYSUT Regional Office
MCC FA, NYSUT Local 2842
UFCW District 1
IBEW Local 86
UAW Local 1097
ATU Local 282
IAFF Local 1071
NALC Branch 210
SEIU Local 1199
Workers United Regional Joint Board
CWA Local 1170
CSEA Western Region
APWU Local 215
AFM Local 66
IUE-CWA (FSW) Local 81381
PEF Region 3
GCIU Local 503