CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (April 22, 2020) — Volkswagen Chattanooga announced today plans for employees to return to work May 3, following a six-week suspension of operations due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, in alignment with lifted restrictions from the State of Tennessee and Hamilton County.
“We’ve dedicated the past several weeks to implementing stringent health and safety measures,” said Tom du Plessis, president and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga. “After assessing the current situation, we’ve decided to resume production under clear safety measures and with the health of our employees as our highest priority.”
To allow ample time for implementation of new health and safety procedures, Volkswagen will resume its Chattanooga operations in phases, gradually increasing production volume over the course of several weeks. Each phase progressively lessens restrictions, with the final phase being a complete return to normal operations.
Volkswagen Chattanooga has put more than 90 new measures into place to limit contact and help ensure safe working spaces. These measures include: providing new personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves; implementing temperature checks upon entrance; establishing six-foot distancing barricades and floor markings; ceasing shuttle transportation; increasing disinfection frequency of all contact surfaces, such as machinery and door handles; and replacing plated cafeteria meals with packed lunches. The Company will continue visitor and on-site event restrictions.
The Company’s medical team will evaluate and coordinate appropriate measures for any employees who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, or who are otherwise ill, at-risk, or have underlying medical issues.
Volkswagen will continue to monitor public health and government guidance on COVID-19, and will adjust operational plans as necessary as the situation evolves.
The factory’s initial restart production schedule will be a five-day, eight-hour work week for most shops. Shift and break times will be staggered.
The factory suspended production March 21 prior to stay-at-home mandates from state and local government out of an abundance of caution. Volkswagen employees and production contractors received full pay and benefits during this time, for a total of three additional weeks of compensation. On April 11, production and maintenance employees were placed on temporary emergency furlough. Furloughed employees continued to receive health care benefits and coverage of premiums during this time.
About Volkswagen Chattanooga
The Volkswagen Chattanooga manufacturing facility began production in April 2011. Volkswagen Chattanooga currently assembles the Volkswagen Passat, a midsize sedan, and the Volkswagen Atlas, a midsize sport utility vehicle. In March 2018, Volkswagen Chattanooga was announced as the production home of a five-seat SUV, the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport. In January 2019, Volkswagen Chattanooga was announced as Volkswagen’s North American base for manufacturing electric vehicles, representing an $800 million investment, and broke ground on the expansion in November 2019. Volkswagen Chattanooga currently employs approximately 3,800 team members.