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Fiat Worker In Belvidere Plant Scott Olson Getty

US Automakers Tentatively Plan for April 14 Return to Production

March 26, 2020
Ford and Fiat-Chrysler both announced today their intentions to resume operations in their American factories by the middle of next month.

Two major automotive manufacturers announced plans to restart their North American vehicle production lines in early to middle April.

In a statement released March 26, Ford North America’s President Kumar Galhotra announced Ford’s intention to resume assembly at a plant in Hermosillo, Mexico on April 6 for one shift. A week later, on April 14, Ford plans to also resume vehicle production in a number of “key” factories: Dearborn Truck Plant, Kentucky Truck Plant, and Ohio Assembly Plant. Ford’s Kansas City Assembly plant will resume production on its transit line. All of those factories will be supplied by Ford facilities in the same states, which will also reopen April 14.

Later, on the same day as Ford’s announcement, Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles made a similar announcement: it, too, was planning on keeping its U.S. factories closed until April 14, “dependent upon the various states’ stay-in-place orders and the readiness of each facility to return to production.” FCA did not provide an update on when its Mexican production lines would resume.

The United Auto Workers, which represents workers for both companies as well as GM, expressed trepidation in a statement. UAW President Rory Gamble emphasized the need for automakers to maintain strict CDC guidelines in all worksites and maintain infection controls.

The timetable adopted by both companies so far would cap their factory shutdowns at roughly a month since both companies stopped production March 19. The UAW, Ford, FCA, and General Motors formed a COVID-19 Task Force March 15 before all three automakers suspended factory work. On March 19, all three auto companies on the task force announced they would all suspend production through March 30, but General Motors has not at press time made a similar announcement about resuming production as the other two.

Earlier this month, a Ford employee at a Michigan factory tested positive for the infectious disease, and two FCA employees who worked at plants in Michigan and Indiana died after contracting the virus. Ford’s statement on resuming production mentioned that the company would introduce “additional safety measures to protect returning workers.” FCA also said they would expand cleaning and social distancing protocols and that they were working with the UAW and Unifor to do so. FCA implemented an aggressive cleaning schedule and social distancing at its Kokomo, Indiana plant in March after two workers there were diagnosed with the virus.

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