Ford Motor, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have agreed to United Auto Workers’ demands to shut down all North America plants as a precaution against coronavirus.
Ford said that after Thursday-evening shifts, the company will temporarily suspend production at its North America plants through March 30 to clean its facilities to protect its workforce and boost containment efforts for the coronavirus.
Ford said it will continue to work closely with union leaders to find ways to help keep workers healthy and safe, “even as we look at solutions for continuing to provide the vehicles customers really want and need,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of North America. “In these unprecedented times, we’re exploring unique and creative solutions to support our workforce, customers, dealers, suppliers and communities.”
Today’s action is prudent, said UAW President Rory Gamble.
“By taking a shutdown and working through next steps, we protect UAW members, their families and the community,” said Gamble. “We have time to review best practices when the plants reopen, and we prevent the possible spread of this pandemic. We commend Ford for working with us and taking this bold step.” Earlier, Ford temporarily closed the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne after an employee tested positive. Ford is cleaning and disinfecting the building. Ford will halt production there through March 30.
General Motors also confirmed Wednesday it will begin a “systematic orderly suspension of manufacturing operations in North America due to market conditions and to deep clean facilities and continue to protect people.” Its suspension of production will last until at least March 30, the company said. After that, production status will be evaluated week to week.
“GM and the UAW have always put the health and safety of the people entering GM plants first,” said GM CEO Mary Barra. “We have been taking extraordinary precautions around the world to keep our plant environments safe, and recent developments in North America make it clear this is the right thing to do now.” GM will suspend operations in a cadence to ensure an orderly production halt, with each facility receiving specific instructions from manufacturing leadership.
No details on the shutdowns at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have been released yet.
Honda North America and BMW said they are closing plants throughout the U.S. and Europe in part due to the coronavirus outbreak dinging consumer demand for cars.