Ford is delaying the restart of vehicle production at its North America plants and has put no date on a future restart. The company had been aiming to restart production April 6 at Hermosillo Assembly Plant and April 14 at several key US plants – and now has further postponed re-start dates, which will be announced later.
“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.”
The auto industry has been heavily hit by decimated demand as result of the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis and population lockdowns that have also shut down dealerships.
Ford and others are repurposing some capacity to meet rising demand for healthcare equipment.
Ford said 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.
“Today’s decision by Ford is the right decision for our members, their families and our nation,” said UAW International President Rory Gamble. “Under Vice President Gerald Kariem, the UAW Ford Department continues to work closely with our local unions and Ford to make sure that as we return to production all members are safe, and our communities are protected from this spreading pandemic.”
When Rawsonville Components Plant begins production of ventilators, the workforce will notice additional health measures in place. Workers will have to self-certify online every day that they are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. If they are, they will not be allowed to work. Work stations will be spaced at least six feet apart to maintain proper social distancing. Shifts will be separated so there is no contact between workers in the different shifts.