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- Ford will delay restarting North American production over health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, the manufacturer said on Tuesday.
- Last week, Ford had said it would resume production at select plants in North America as early as April 6, drawing backlash from the United Auto Workers union.
- Ford did not specify when North American plants would reopen, but said that one Michigan plant will restart in late April to build ventilators to treat patients with COVID-19.
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Ford is postponing the restart of production at its North American plants due to coronavirus-related health and safety concerns, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. The manufacturer has not yet said when it plans to reopen North American plants.
Last week, Ford said it would resume production at some key manufacturing facilities in North America as early as April 6, reportedly to generate cash by building some of its most profitable vehicles, such as the Transit commercial van, F-150 pickup, and some SUVs, via Reuters. The plans included reopening the Hermosillo Assembly Plant in Mexico on April 6, followed by several US facilities on April 14.
That move was swiftly rebuked by the United Auto Workers union. "The UAW continues to review with great caution and concern decisions being made about restarting workplaces, especially at advanced dates," UAW President Rory Gamble said in a statement.
But on Tuesday, Ford reversed course and said it will delay those plans in order to protect employees.
"The health and safety of our workforce, dealers, customers, partners and communities remains our highest priority," Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford North America, said. "We are working very closely with union leaders — especially at the UAW — to develop additional health and safety procedures aimed at helping keep our workforce safe and healthy."
The decision to postpone production comes days after the UAW announced the deaths of two Ford employees due to the novel coronavirus.
"Today's decision by Ford is the right decision for our members, their families, and our nation," Gamble said in a statement on Tuesday.
Ford will reopen its Rawsonville, Michigan, plant the week of April 20 to begin manufacturing ventilators, which are in short supply in the US and are crucial pieces of medical equipment for treating COVID-19 patients.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced last week that it would resume North American production on April 13, while General Motors has not said when it will begin reopening its plants.
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