Ford forced two production plants to cease production after employees tested positive for Covid-19

Ford forced two production plants to cease production after employees tested positive for Covid-19

A Chicago plant that builds the Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator and Ford Interceptor police car stopped operations on Tuesday afternoon after two employees tested positive for Covid-19. So the Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan, which makes its best-selling F-150, closed on Wednesday.

This week’s outages are expected to be brief: the Chicago plant returned to operation on Wednesday morning and the Dearborn plant is expected to resume operations later Wednesday evening. However, the temporary shutdowns indicate the difficulty of operating the factories in compliance with the enhanced security measures put in place to deal with the pandemic.
The Chicago assembly plant briefly suspended production Wednesday afternoon, due to a shortage of parts from a supplier, according to Ford. The Ford Chicago plant is slated to resume production on Wednesday evening. The disruption of Ford’s supply chain was caused when the supplier, Lear (LEA), confirmed that one of his employees at a plant in Hammond, Indiana, just across the state line from Chicago, had tested positive for Covid-19.

“The facility has temporarily suspended production for deep cleaning and disinfection and we have informed our implant team members, UAW partners and our customers,” said Lear in a statement.

Even the partial day arrests in random plants demonstrate how difficult it will be for car manufacturers to resume operations while facing the pandemic, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research, a Michigan think tank. He said many of the auto plants that restarted operations in Asia have been forced to shut down, at least temporarily.

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“There are three things that must all come together. You have to have a healthy workforce, a healthy supply chain and healthy demand,” he said. “It’s not just pushing a switch and everything is the same. It’s very complicated.”

Ford began checking employee temperatures when he reopened his plants and is requesting medical tests for workers who exhibit symptoms. The two positive Chicago test results returned Tuesday, resulting in an afternoon shutdown. The end of the day shift and part of the night shift were lost.

“When two employees who returned to work this week tested positive for Covid-19, we immediately informed people known to have been in close contact with the infected people and asked them to quarantine for 14 days,” he said. Kelli Felker, spokesman for Ford. “We also thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the workspace, equipment, team area and the path taken by the team member.”

The same procedure was followed at Dearborn Truck when the positive result came back on Wednesday, he said.

Felker said that the employees concerned worked in a separate building about a mile from the main assembly line of the plant. But since parts of those employees’ building are needed on the main assembly line, the whole complex has been closed.

Ford has approximately 5,800 employees in the Chicago assembly complex. A separate molding plant in Chicago with just over 1,000 employees remained open. It has 4,400 employees in Dearborn Truck.

Felker said Ford is confident that infected employees of both plants had the virus before returning to work because of the coronavirus incubation time.

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“Our protocols are in place to help stop the spread of the virus,” he said.

The United Auto Workers union, which represents hourly workers at Ford (F), General engines (GM) is Fiat Chrysler (FCAU), released a statement on the situation in Chicago: “continues to aggressively monitor the implementation of health and safety protocols to protect our members, their families and their communities.”


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