Nexteer employees prepare for layoffs once again

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SAGINAW COUNTY (WJRT) -- For many in Michigan -- being off the job is uncharted territory.

But for others, it's an all too familiar feeling.

With the month long GM strike that sent Nexteer employees to the unemployment line last summer fresh on their minds, they were notified Friday they would be layed off once again because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tony Santiago says they knew the day was coming.

"We had the knowledge that we were going to be laid off. "

But Santiago says the reality of another layoff is a hard one to swallow.

"This was sooner than expected."

Santiago has spent nearly a decade working at the Nexteer plant in Saginaw County. He is now facing the uncertainty of what's to come, as the state and country try to stop the spread of the virus.

"Everybody's been worried, everybody's been hectic. Everybody's emotions been really showing," says Santiago.

The month long GM strike that sent Santiago to the unemployment line last summer is still fresh in his mind.

"We have in the entire the site, well over 3,000 employees. Easily. And I believe maybe two thirds are unemployed right now and it's just going to get worse if conditions don't get any better"

Now that Governor Whitmer has signed a "stay home" executive order, Santiago fears this lay-off could last much longer than the GM strike.

"We're all in the same boat, especially at the plant, everybody's being laid off there now, just not a good situation,"

Union officials have been in talks with Nexteer management, including formation of a task force to streamline communications with health care providers, hospitals, plant medical staff and union leaders.

UAW Local 699 is also planning to receive food truck deliveries beginning on March 27 and will continue as long as members need assistance.