“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.”
UAW and Ford leaders will work together in the coming weeks on plant restart plans as well as exploring additional protocols and procedures for helping prevent the spread of the virus. Chief among them: finding ways to maximize social distancing among plant workers – both during work hours and at shift change, when large numbers of people typically gather at entry and exit points and maximizing cleaning times between shift changes.
“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.”
Ford temporarily closed Michigan Assembly Plant (MAP) final assembly building this morning after an employee tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus and is thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the building, as promised as part of the company’s coronavirus emergency response protocol. MAP will halt production to March 30.
In addition, the company will instruct people who have had direct contact with that infected employee to self-quarantine and get medical attention. Those who have had close contact to those who have had direct contact are asked watch for symptoms and seek medical attention if they feel unwell.
The move to temporarily close plants follows Sunday’s news that Ford leaders are forming a Coronavirus Task Force along with UAW, General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler leaders to implement enhanced protections for manufacturing and warehouse employees at all three companies. Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford and President and CEO Jim Hackett, UAW President Rory Gamble, GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, and FCA CEO Michael Manley are leading the task force. The three companies formed a similar task force in Canada.
“Together, we’ll continue finding solutions and best practices that help keep workers at our plants and parts distribution centers healthy and safe throughout our operations,” said Gary Johnson, chief manufacturing and labor affairs officer.
In addition, Ford vehicle manufacturing sites in Cologne and Saarlouis in Germany, together with the Craiova facility in Romania, will temporarily halt production starting Thursday. Ford’s Valencia assembly and engine facility in Spain already temporarily halted production from Monday, after three workers were confirmed with coronavirus over the past weekend.
On Monday, Ford asked all salaried employees – except those performing business critical roles that can’t be done off site – to work remotely until further notice.
“Especially in these challenging times, we must continue working together and putting people first,” Galhotra said.