Detroit Three Carmakers and UAW Agree to Limit Production Due to Coronavirus

Written by: Michael Harris
March 18, 2020
  • General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler agreed with UAW to curb production in order to protect staff from coronavirus
  • The carmakers will come up with plans to increase social distancing between workers and perform partial shutdown at the facilities
  • UAW will announce more details over the next 24 hours

The Detroit Three car manufacturers – General Motors (NYSE:GM), Ford (NYSE:F) and Fiat Chrysler (BIT:FCA) – and United Auto Workers (UAW) announced their plans yesterday to limit the production at U.S. plants and reduce the number of employees working at the same time, in order to protect them from the fast-spreading coronavirus.

The automakers accommodate around 150,000 factory workers as they search for solutions to increase distancing between employees that work at the plants, as well as to carry out a partial shutdown at the factories.

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Each carmaker will draw up its own plan, however, cutting the number of shifts from three to two could be one of the ways as it would provide more time to clean the equipment and reduce contact between workers.

“The health and safety of our workforce is our top priority,” said Ford Motor Co. spokesperson Kelli Felker. “We’re working closely with the UAW and are aiming to announce details in the next 24 hours.”

The deal was announced a few hours after the UAW President Rory Gamble voiced his discontent with how General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV have halted production in a response to his proposal on Sunday.

Gamble said he would take one-sided measures if the three carmakers did not do better to protect hourly workers at the plants.

To put the changes into effect, the Detroit Three will be working UAW vice presidents and set up shifts that will comply with CDC-required social distancing and staff protection. The UAW said it will publish more details over the next 24 hours.

“(Shutdown) is something we are trying to avoid,” said a person at General Motors familiar with the matter, but not authorized to speak for the media.

The automakers’ employees who work with software and spreadsheets are allowed to work from home to reduce contact between employees, however, workers who work in factories and hand-assemble vehicles are required to come to work.

There are thousands of workers at factories who work side by side and gather in rest areas. Still, the agreement is a cheaper solution compared to a full shutdown that would have forced the companies to give up billions in revenue in the current quarter.