Jackson County’s top two industrial employers have shut down to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Aisin USA and Valeo both stopped production in recent days and ordered their employees to stay at home.
Other local manufacturers and businesses, such as Cummins, Silgan, Nippon Steel and Home Products International, remain in operation, categorizing themselves as essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grocery stores, distribution centers, banks, restaurants’ drive-thrus and gas stations also remain open as essential.
Aisin, which operates auto parts plants in Seymour and Crothersville, closed March 20 and is tentatively scheduled to resume work April 7.
The company is paying its more than 2,000 workers 100% of their pay for the first two days missed and then 80% for the remaining days.
Valeo, which makes lighting systems for vehicles, shut down in stages. Some of the more than 2,000 employees’ last day was March 20, while others worked until March 26.
On Friday, the company informed its workforce an employee in Plant 1 had tested positive for COVID-19.
Employees have the option of using up their vacation time or filing for unemployment during the closure. The company is, however, paying workers’ insurance for the duration of the shutdown.
Like Aisin, Valeo is looking to reopen April 7.
Cummins Inc. has announced it will change work shift patterns and reduce hours for employees at its local manufacturing facilities beginning Monday, including the Seymour Engine Plant.
At SEP, the company will be spreading out the work over seven days to reduce the number of people who are on site at any given time, said company spokesman Jon Mills.
Cummins also has reduced workforce hours or shifts at its technical centers, warehouses and service locations. But it is not laying off employees locally at this time, Mills said.
It employs more than 1,100 people in Seymour.
Company officials said Cummins has had “very few cases” of the virus among employees, and none of the employees are believed to have been infected or transmitted the virus while at work.
Silgan Plastics is in a unique position of needing to stay open because of the products it manufactures.
A representative from the company’s human resources and business department said it has implemented protocol to keep employees safe by following guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. Those include screening employees, restricting temporary workers and visitors and social distancing.
“We are doing business as usual here because we are considered business critical,” she said.
Silgan manufactures plastic bottles used for medicines, hand sanitizers and soap dispensers.
She also said the company is being very flexible and compassionate with its employees.
“We are thanking them for coming to work every day,” she said. “Our business is critical to the supply chain and what we need during this pandemic.”
Home Products International, which employs around 200 in making ironing boards, has turned its attention toward making face masks.
The company donated nearly 1,500 masks to Schneck Medical Center on Thursday. And that’s just the start, said Tom Day, director of operations at HPI.
“It’s just an opportunity for us to try to give back a little,” he said.
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Any worker who is concerned about a business staying open during the state’s mandatory stay-at-home order should address the business owners first and then file a complaint with the Indiana Office of Occupational Health and Safety Administration at 402 W. Washington St., Room W195, Indianapolis, IN 46204, by calling 317-232-2655 or faxing 317-233-3790. For information on filing complaints, visit in.gov/dol/2733.htm.