Detroit (AP) — A person briefed on the matter says Detroit’s three automakers have agreed to close all of their factories due to worker fears about the coronavirus.
Automakers are expected to release details of the closure later today. The United Auto Workers union has been pushing for factories to close because workers are fearful of coming into contact with the virus.
The person didn’t want to be identified because the closures have not been formally announced.
The decision reverses a deal worked out late Tuesday in which the automakers would cancel some shifts so they could thoroughly cleanse equipment and buildings. But workers, especially at some Fiat Chrysler factories, were still fearful and were pressuring the union to seek full closures.
Honda Motor Co. announced Wednesday that it will temporarily close its North American factories for about one week starting on Monday.
General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra and UAW President Rory Gamble released a statement in response to the factories closing until March 30, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
DETROIT – Today, General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) confirmed it will begin a systematic orderly suspension of manufacturing operations in North America due to market conditions, to deep clean facilities and continue to protect people. The suspension will last until at least March 30. Production status will be reevaluated week-to-week after that.
“GM and the UAW have always put the health and safety of the people entering GM plants first, and we have agreed to a systematic, orderly suspension of production to aid in fighting COVID-19/coronavirus,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We have been taking extraordinary precautions around the world to keep our plant environments safe and recent developments in North America make it clear this is the right thing to do now. I appreciate the teamwork of UAW President Rory Gamble, UAW Vice President Terry Dittes and local leadership as we take this unprecedented step.”
“UAW members, their families and our communities will benefit from today’s announcement with the certainty that we are doing all that we can to protect our health and safety during this pandemic,” said UAW President Rory Gamble. “This will give us time to review best practices and to prevent the spread of this disease. We appreciate General Motors’ actions today and will continue to work with them on health and safety plans to be implemented when we resume production.”
To ensure that production stops in a safe and orderly fashion, plants will suspend operations in a cadence, with each facility receiving specific instructions from manufacturing leadership.
The Fiat Chrysler Automakers also released a statement regarding the cessation of production at plants in North America.
Working with the UAW and listening to the concerns of our people, we have agreed to cease production at our plants across North America, starting progressively from today through the end of March. While production is paused, the Company will put actions into place to facilitate the steps agreed to through the joint task-force set up between the UAW and the automakers. Through this period, which we will re-evaluate at the end of this month, FCA will work to enhance its manufacturing operations to facilitate the changes agreed with the UAW including shift timings, structures and enhanced cleaning protocols.
Commenting on this action, FCA CEO, Mike Manley said: “Working with the UAW, and having visited many of our plants yesterday, we need to ensure employees feel safe at work and that we are taking every step possible to protect them. We will continue to do what is right for our people through this period of uncertainty.”
“We’ve been working very closely with the FCA leadership and are very pleased that they have taken this step to help us protect the hard-working men and women and our communities across the nation,” said UAW President Rory Gamble. “We will now have the time to review best practices to prepare for when the plants reopen, so we can continue working to prevent the possible spread of this pandemic. We commend FCA for working with us and taking this bold step.”