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Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler will close all factories amid coronavirus outbreak

US auto plants would shut down within a week if border closes, economist says
Posted at 12:31 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 20:18:22-04

(WXYZ) — Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler will close all of their factories due to worker fears about the coronavirus, sources tell 7 Action News.

According to Ford, they will suspend production at all manufacturing sites in North America through March 30 to clean its facilities and protect its workforce. It will start after Thursday evening shifts, and it's not clear when or how long FCA and GM will close plants for.

“We’re continuing to work closely with union leaders, especially the United Auto Workers, to find ways to help keep our workforce 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.”

Ford added that it's "ready to help the administration in any way we can" during this health crisis, which includes possibly producing ventilators and other equipment for employees.

"We have had preliminary discussions with the U.S. governments and are looking into the feasibility," the company said in a statement.

General Motors will also suspend production until at least March 30 for deep cleaning, and production status will be reevaluated every week after that.

“GM and the UAW have always put the health and safety of the people entering GM plants first, and we have agreed to a systematic, orderly suspension of production to aid in fighting COVID-19/coronavirus,” said GM Chairman and 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. I appreciate the teamwork of UAW President Rory Gamble, UAW Vice President Terry Dittes and local leadership as we take this unprecedented step.”

“Today’s action is the prudent thing to do. By taking a shutdown and working through next steps, we protect UAW members, their families and the community,” said Rory Gamble, president of the UAW. “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.”

Fiat Chrysler announced Wednesday evening that they will also shut plants down through the end of March, and then re-evaluate from there.

The company released the following statement: "Working with the UAW and listening to the concerns of our people, we have agreed to cease production at our plants across North America, starting progressively from today through the end of March. While production is paused, the Company will put actions into place to facilitate the steps agreed to through the joint task-force set up between the UAW and the automakers. Through this period, which we will re-evaluate at the end of this month, FCA will work to enhance its manufacturing operations to facilitate the changes agreed with the UAW including shift timings, structures and enhanced cleaning protocols.

Commenting on this action, FCA CEO, Mike Manley said: “Working with the UAW, and having visited many of our plants yesterday, we need to ensure employees feel safe at work and that we are taking every step possible to protect them. We will continue to do what is right for our people through this period of uncertainty.”

With our priority towards the health and safety of our workforce we are also evaluating the impact of all steps being taken inside the company related to the Coronavirus emergency on our current financial guidance. We will provide an update on our financial guidance when that evaluation is complete and we have sufficient visibility on market conditions."

On Wednesday, both the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant and the Fiat Chrysler Sterling heights Assembly Plant closed after workers at each location tested positive for COVID-19.

On Tuesday, the UAW and Big 3 announced they agreed to coronavirus protection measures after the union pressured the automakers into shutting down for two weeks.