Big 3 automakers closing plants to halt spread of coronavirus

    Mark Lyons/Getty Images
    Updated, 9:10 a.m. 3/19/20, with comments from FCA

    Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are temporarily closing their U.S. manufacturing facilities to help control the spread of the new coronavirus, according to the Associated Press.

    Clickondetroit.com reports the decision came after cases of COVID-19, the disease spread by the virus, were confirmed at Fiat Chrysler’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant and at the final assembly building at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.

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    United Auto Workers President Rory Gamble had called on the automakers to close the factories to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 in a letter published on the UAW’s website Tuesday.

    According to a media statement from Ford, production at its U.S., Canadian and Mexican manufacturing facilities will be halted after Thursday evening’s shifts through March 30, to thoroughly clean and sanitize the plants.

    GM has announced that it will also begin suspension of manufacturing operations in North America due to market conditions and to deep clean facilities. GM spokesperson Pat Morrissey says that production suspensions at GM’s U.S., Canadian and Mexican manufacturing facilities will go into effect as soon as Wednesday at some locations, but that timing will vary by plant. The suspension will last until at least March 30. GM says production status will be reevaluated week-to-week after that.

    In a statement issued to the Advance, FCA said: “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.”*

    In a post on the UAW website, Gamble said that the Big Three’s actions to suspend production at their plants was the prudent thing to do.

    “By taking a shutdown and working through next steps, we protect UAW members, their families and the community,” said Gamble.

    Madeline Ciak
    Madeline Ciak covers the economy, health care and safety net, immigration and politics. She’s a University of Michigan-Flint graduate and previously worked as a digital media manager at NBC25/FOX66 in Flint and a weekend producer at ABC12. When she’s not writing or editing, she can be found reading, whipping something up in the Instant Pot, gardening or treasure hunting at thrift stores.