Ford forced to shutdown production at two factories after employees tested positive for Covid-19

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

The week’s outages are expected to be brief – the Chicago plant was put back into service Wednesday morning and the Dearborn plant is scheduled to resume operations on Wednesday evening. However, the temporary closings are a sign of the difficulty of operating the factories while respecting the reinforced security measures put in place to deal with the pandemic.

The Chicago assembly plant briefly suspended production a second time on Wednesday afternoon due to a shortage of parts from a supplier, Ford said. Ford’s Chicago plant is expected to resume production on Wednesday evening. The disruption in Ford’s supply chain was caused when the supplier, Lear ((LEA), confirmed that one of his employees at a factory in Hammond, Indiana, just above the Chicago state line, tested positive for Covid-19.

“The facility temporarily halted production for deep cleaning and disinfection, and we have informed our plant team members, UAW partners and our client,” Lear said in a statement. .

Even part-day closings in random factories show how difficult it will be for automakers to resume operations while coping with the pandemic, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research, a Michigan think tank. She said that many auto factories that have resumed operations in Asia have been forced to close, at least temporarily.

“There are three things that need to be brought together. You have to have a healthy workforce, a healthy supply chain, and a healthy demand, “she said. “It’s not just flipping a switch and everything is like that. It’s very complicated. “

Ford began monitoring employee temperatures when its factories reopened, and is demanding medical tests for workers with symptoms. The two positive test results in Chicago returned on Tuesday, closing the afternoon. 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 those known to have been in close contact with the infected and asked them to quarantine themselves for 14 days, “said Kelli Felker, spokesperson. for Ford. “We also thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the work area, the equipment, the team area and the path taken by the team member. “

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

Felker said the affected workers were working in a separate building about a mile from the plant’s main assembly line. But because parts of the employees’ building are needed on the main assembly line, the entire complex has been closed.

Ford has approximately 5,800 employees at the Chicago assembly complex. Another Chicago stamping plant with just over 1,000 employees remained open. Dearborn Truck has 4,400 employees.

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Felker said Ford was convinced that infected workers at both plants had the virus before they returned to work due to the incubation time of the coronavirus.

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

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

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