Ford calls off plans to resume production at several of its North American plants, citing ongoing concern about worker exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
The automaker had planned to restart production April 6 at its Hermosillo, Mexico, assembly plant and April 14 at several U.S. plants, including key pickup assembly plants in Dearborn, MI, and Louisville, KY. Ford says Tuesday it has further postponed startup dates, which will be announced later.
“The health and safety of our workforce, dealers, customers, partners and communities remains our highest priority,” Kumar Galhotra, Ford president-North America, says in a news release. “We are working very closely with union leaders – especially at the UAW – to develop additional health and safety procedures aimed at helping keep our workforce safe and healthy.”
“Today’s decision by Ford is the right decision for our members, their families and our nation,” UAW International President Rory Gamble says. “Under Vice President Gerald Kariem, the UAW Ford Department continues to work closely with our local unions and Ford to make sure that as we return to production all members are safe, and our communities are protected from this spreading pandemic.”
Fiat Chrysler said last week it planned to reopen its U.S. and Canadian plants in mid-April. General Motors has said it targeted Monday for resuming production but would evaluate the situation week to week. A message seeking comment was left with a GM spokesman Tuesday.
All three automakers have committed various plants to production of ventilators for COVID-19 patients or personal protective equipment for health-care workers.
GM, Ford and FCA, with UAW approval, have asked for volunteers from among blue-collar employees to keep open their parts warehouses across the country during the pandemic.