Following an earlier report that General Motors, Ford and FCA would take action to curtail the potential spread of the Coronavirus, news comes today that the three American automakers will instead close all North American plants for an unknown period of time.
Ford said in a statement that it "is temporarily suspending production at its manufacturing sites in North America to March 30 to thoroughly clean its facilities to protect its workforce and boost containment efforts for the COVID-19 Coronavirus." General Motors followed with a statement confirming that its suspension "will last until at least March 30," and adding that the situation will be reevaluated from week to week after that. FCA has not yet issued an official statement.
Rory Gamble, president of the United Auto Workers union, praised the news.
"This will give us time to review best practices and to prevent the spread of this disease," Gamble said in a statement. According to the Associated Press, around 150,000 workers are "likely to receive supplemental pay in addition to unemployment benefits."
The United Auto Workers had asked the automakers to reconsider their position on Wednesday, a day after the parties agreed to slow production at U.S. plants and limit the number of workers on the job at one time to prevent the spread of the virus, a source who asked not to be identified told Reuters.
The UAW’s new request for the closure of the Detroit Three automakers’ U.S. plants came after Honda said on Wednesday it was temporarily shutting its North American plants for six days because of the anticipated decline in consumer demand.