Chrysler has announced that all 15 of the employees who were allegedly drinking and smoking marijuana during their lunch break, as reported by a Detroit television crew, have been suspended indefinitely without pay. The workers were employed at the company’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant in the city of Detroit. Over a ten-day period, the workers were spotted drinking during their lunch break and recorded by the TV crew. Chrysler says that all of the individuals involved had been identified and relieved of their duty within 36 hours of the company learning of the problem.
According to Jodi Tinson, the head of communications for Chrysler manufacturing and labor, any time a worker is found to be in violation of company policy on these issues, he or she is suspended without pay until the matter can be resolved. After an investigation, the company will make a decision on the guilt or innocence of each worker and reinstatement or termination will follow from there.
In an official statement, Chrysler said that while the video seems pretty cut and dry, it must adhere to its protocol when it comes to removing those workers permanently.
Judging from the Fox 2 News report, it appears the workers in question had made a regular habit of spending their lunch break at a local park throwing back beers and smoking marijuana, even with another full three hours of work ahead of them. Yet when asked if this type of behavior had been a problem in the past at either at the Jefferson North facility or at any of Chrysler’s other manufacturing plants, Tinson said that she wasn’t aware of any other instances of workers abusing drugs or alcohol and returning to work.
Skepticism aside, one has to wonder exactly what the workers featured in the video were responsible for at the plant.
“They worked on the line,” Tinson said. “But I think I’d rather not share any more specific detail.”
According to Chrysler, the Jefferson North plant sits on 283 acres with a total of 3 million square feet of space under one roof. Over 600 robots operate on 26.2 miles of conveyors alongside 2,833 workers split between two shifts. Recently, the plant’s workers went through extensive training totaling 45,000 hours as part of a $686 million dollar investment in the future of both the plant itself and the products it produces.
Right now, Chrysler manufactures its newest poster child for the company’s recovery effort, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, at the factory. The vehicle boasts both styling and a fit and finish that are on par or above competitive metal from Germany and Japan.
AOL Autos attempted to contact the United Auto Workers to learn how the union typically handles incidents of this kind, but unfortunately, the UAW is only issuing a prepared statement at this time. In it, the UAW condemns the use of drugs and alcohol on the job, saying that the type of behavior illustrated by the workers in the Fox 2 report puts other workers in danger and that it is uncharacteristic of the large majority of the unionized labor at Jefferson North. The union also said that it will work with Chrysler to ensure that its facilities remain both alcohol and drug free.
It would be nearly impossible to fathom how many vehicles could have been impacted, if indeed this handful of workers regularly returned to the job high, drunk or both. Chrysler made it clear that it wouldn’t share that information even if it were readily available. Even so, the company says that it doesn’t have any additional inspections planned due to the Fox 2 report.
“We have rigorous and redundant quality checks as [the vehicles] go along,” Tinson said. “Any vehicle that goes through our plant goes through those quality checks. I don’t think that the safety or the quality of those vehicles is in question.”