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Ford Delays Plant Reopenings Due To Coronavirus, UAW Says It's 'Right Decision'

Elizabeth Balboa

In March, Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) shuttered its U.S. factories as the coronavirus pandemic, with plans to reopen plants as soon as April 6. Now, those plans are being recalculated.

Ford Says Health, Safety Are First Priority 

Union officials had initially resisted the quick return to work, particularly when states are stilll surging toward peak contagion levels. They demanded strict adherence to CDC worksite guidelines, and Ford was seemingly responsive.

On Tuesday, the automaker announced an indefinite delay in some factory reopenings; the reshaping of plants to separate work stations by 6 feet; and the scheduling of shifts to prevent cohort interaction. Ford also plans to institute an online system for workers to self-certify daily that they are free of COVID-19 symptoms.

“The health and safety of our workforce, dealers, customers, partners and communities remains our highest priority,” Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford's North America division, said in a press release.

“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.”

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UAW Applauds Ford's Decision

The decision appears to placate union officials fearful for the workforce's safety. 

“Today’s decision by Ford is the right decision for our members, their families and our nation,” said UAW International President Rory Gamble.

“Under Vice President Gerald Kariem, the UAW Ford Department continues to work closely with our local unions and Ford to make sure that as we return to production all members are safe, and our communities are protected from this spreading pandemic.”

What’s Next For Ford 

Ford said its Ypsilanti plant will reopen during the week of April 20 to make ventilators in a collaboration with General Electric Company's (NYSE: GE) GE Healthcare. 

The start dates for other plants are yet to be announced.

Competitor Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (NYSE: FCAU) plans to resume production April 13.

Ford shares were trading 1.19% higher at $5.09 at the time of publication in Tuesday's premarket session. 

Related Link:

Companies Suspend Dividends, Buybacks As Pandemic Weakens Market

Photo courtesy of Ford. 

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