DETROIT – Ford Motor Company announced Tuesday it is delaying the restart of production at its North American plants in a move to further protect workers from the coronavirus.
The company had been aiming to restart production April 6 at Hermosillo Assembly Plant and April 14 at several key U.S. plants, including several in Metro Detroit. Now, the startup dates will have to be announced at a later time as the virus continues to spread throughout the continent.
“The health and safety of our workforce, dealers, customers, partners and communities remains our highest priority,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford president, North America. “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.”
United Auto Workers (UAW) union President Rory Gamble called this the “right decision.”
“Today’s decision by Ford is the right decision for our members, their families and our nation," reads a statement from Gamble. "Under Vice President Gerald Kariem, the UAW Ford Department continues to work closely with our local unions and Ford to make sure that when we return to production all members are safe, and our communities are protected from this spreading pandemic.”
Meanwhile, the Rawsonville Components Plant will restart the week of April 20 to produce the Model A-E ventilator, in collaboration with GE Healthcare, supported by paid volunteer UAW workers. The Model A-E ventilator is a basic, cost-efficient design that addresses the needs of most COVID-19 patients. Production will quickly scale up to produce 50,000 ventilators by July 4 – helping to meet the growing demand in the U.S. Approximately 500 paid volunteer UAW workers will be building these ventilators. At this time, ventilator production will be the only work being done at the Rawsonville plant, Ford said.