As The Coronavirus Spreads, Ford Shutters Plants To Keep Workers Safe
Coronavirus Forces Halt To Production
As of the end of yesterday's late shift, the automaker is halting production at its manufacturing sites in North America to thoroughly clean its facilities and increase efforts at containing the virus.
"We're continuing to work closely with union leaders, especially the United Auto Works (UAW), to find ways to keep our workforce healthy and safe – even as we look at the solution for continuing to provide the vehicles customers really want and need," 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 the plans are 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 maximize cleaning times between shift changes.
Coronavirus Shutdown ‘Prudent Thing To Do’
Rory Gamble, president of the UAW, called the shutdown a "prudent thing to do." He continued that by working through the process, the union protects its members and the community. "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."
This week, Ford temporarily idled the final assembly building of its Michigan Assembly Plant (MAP) after an employee tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. As part of its promise, the had temporarily idled its Michigan Assembly Plant (MAP) final assembly building following an employee's positive test for the Covid-19 coronavirus. Crews have thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the building. Ford plans to halt production at MAP and its other facilities, March 30.
Also, the automaker will tell employees who have had direct contact with the affected employee to self-quarantine and get medical attention. Ford has also asked workers who may have had contact to watch for symptoms and seek medical attention if they feel unwell.
The move to temporarily shut down its plants follows last weekend's news that Ford has joined with the UAW, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler to seek enhanced protections for manufacturing and warehouse employees at all three automakers. Bill Ford, Ford's executive chairman, Jim Hackett, Ford president and CEO, Rory Gamble, UAW president, Mary Barry, GM chairman and CEO, and Michael Manley, FCA CEO, are leading the task force. The automakers have formed a similar task force in Canada.
Coronavirus Keeps Best Practices Pressure On
Ford executive Gary Johnson said that:
"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," Jonson is chief manufacturing and labor affairs officer.
Ford has also taken action overseas with its sites. The manufacturer has temporarily shuttered locations in Cologne, Germany, Saarlouis, Germany. Beginning yesterday, the automaker has also temporarily halted production at the German sites as well as the Craiova facility in Romania. Ford has also closed its Valencia assembly and engine plant in Spain since Monday. Three workers were confirmed with Covid-19 (coronavirus) last weekend.
In another safety action, Ford has asked all salaried employees, except those performing business-critical roles, to work remotely until further notice.
Coronoavirus Comment Is Quite Eloquent
Galhotra summed it up eloquently that "especially in these challenging times, we must continue working together and putting people first."
Marc Stern has been an auto writer since 1971. It was a position that filled two boyhood dreams: One was that I would write, and two that I write about cars. When I took over as my newspaper's auto editor, I began a 32-year career as an automotive columnist. There isn't much on four wheels that I haven't driven or reviewed. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. Today, I am the Ford F150 reporter for Torque News. I write how-to and help columns for online sites such as Fixya.com and others. You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Most of Marc's stories can be found at Torque News Ford coverage. Check back again and search for Torque News Ford F-150 news for more F-150 truck news coverage.