Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibility2,500 Volkswagen Chattanooga workers to be temporarily furloughed due to COVID-19 impact | WTVC
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2,500 Volkswagen Chattanooga workers to be temporarily furloughed due to COVID-19 impact

(File photo provided by VW-Chattanooga from when it introduced its Atlas SUV line)
(File photo provided by VW-Chattanooga from when it introduced its Atlas SUV line)
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As the COVID-19 public health crisis deepens, Volkswagen Chattanooga announced on Thursday what it calls "temporary emergency furloughs" for its production and maintenance workforce, effective April 11th and planned to last for "no more than four weeks."

VW-Chattanooga spokeswoman Amanda Plecas tells NewsChannel 9 that 2,500 employees will be furloughed.

The company said in an emailed news release that these employees have been unable to work following the factory’s production suspension, which began March 21st to help prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.

All furloughed employees will remain Volkswagen employees through the duration of the furlough period. Upon return, employees will retain their original dates of hire and accrued paid time off, according to the release.

Non-furloughed employees will continue working from home and will use one mandatory vacation day next week. All employees have been asked to self-quarantine and maintain social distancing as directed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Volkswagen says it is taking steps to limit the furlough’s impact on employees. It says it will continue to provide health care benefits and coverage of premiums, paying both employer and employee contributions. Employees will still receive their first quarter bonuses as well as their March monthly bonuses.

“Our primary objective is to protect the financial health of Volkswagen for the benefit of our team as we address the emerging and ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on our industry,” said Tom du Plessis, president and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga. “Right now we have limited visibility on when we will be able to resume production, but we are committed to doing everything we can to preserve jobs. During this time we will be intensely focused on preparing to reopen in a responsible way, ensuring our team has the opportunity to return to work safely and as quickly as practicable.”

With the recent enhancement of unemployment benefits under the CARES Act, VW-Chattanooga says these employees are now eligible to receive an additional $600 per week in federal compensation through the $2 trillion economic stimulus bill, as well as state unemployment benefits.

VW-Chattanooga says those enrolled in Volkswagen’s apprenticeship and high school programs will have continued access to education. All instructor-led technical training are on hold until further notice.

The factory suspended production last month prior to stay-at-home mandates from state and local government out of an abundance of caution. VW-Chattanooga says employees and production contractors received full pay and benefits during this time, for a total of three additional weeks of compensation.

As far as production, VW-Chattanooga spokeswoman Amanda Plecas tells NewsChannel 9, "There will be no production during this time however employees who are able to telework will continue to do so. The health and safety of the team is our top priority, therefore we are following the guidance and recommendations from the CDC and public health officials – we’ll continue to monitor the situation, but do not have a timeline at this point for when we will resume production."

Depend on us to keep you posted on this developing story.

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