Ford, GM And FCA Will Close All Factories Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

WWJ News
March 18, 2020 - 2:02 pm

(WWJ/AP) Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler will close all factories amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

WWJ Auto Beat Reporter Jeff Gilbert reported Wednesday afternoon that Ford and GM both confirm that they will suspend production until at least March 30.

Ford said its plants will shut down after Thursday evening shifts, through March 30, while GM said it will begin a “systematic orderly suspension” of production through at least March 30. Operations will be evaluated weekly after that.

“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 CEO Mary Barra said in a statement.

Ford said in its statement that it will work with leaders of the United Auto Workers union in the coming weeks on plans to restart factories, as well as exploring more procedures to prevent the virus from spreading. 

Sources say that FCA was first planning to make the announcement and were joined by Ford and GM, according to sources speaking to the Associated Press. Messages were left seeking comment from FCA. The people speaking about the closures didn't want to be identified because formal announcements had not yet been made.

Earlier Wednesday, Ford said it was temporarily suspending a portion of production at its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne after worker tests positive for coronavirus.  Gilbert reported that the final assembly building, not the entire plant, would close. The company said it planned to clean and disinfect the building, and other workers who came in contact with the infected employee will be asked to self quarantine. No details about the worker, including his or her condition, were immediately released. 

The news from Ford came just a couple of hours after FCA announced it would shut down its Sterling Heights Assembly plant for the same reason. 

The Big Three have, over the past week, been under a lot of pressure from the UAW to shut down plants. Despite that, the three said they agreed Tuesday night to remain open, while announcing some changes in the way they operate.

** READ — Letter Sent To UAW Members Regarding Coronavirus Outbreak **

Auto company officials said they would try to find ways to better separate workers who remain on the job, Gilbert reported, and that changes would include rotating partial shutdowns of facilities, extended periods between shifts for sanitizing of equipment, and more rotation of shifts. It now appears that it was decided that that wasn't enough. 

Stay tuned to WWJ Newsradio 950 for the very latest updates. >>LISTEN LIVE