Monday, 18 May 2020 21:05

Huge Day as Detroit 3 Restart At Least 51 Plants Shuttered Since March by Coronavirus

Written by Phoebe Wall Howard, Jamie L. LaReau and Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press
Autoworkers arrive to start their shifts at the FCA plant on Mound Road on May 18. The industry was shut down by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer due to the COVID-19 virus. It was the first day back at work.  Autoworkers arrive to start their shifts at the FCA plant on Mound Road on May 18. The industry was shut down by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer due to the COVID-19 virus. It was the first day back at work.  Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press


Before sunrise on May 18, tens of thousands of autoworkers will head back to work at factories in Detroit, Chicago, Toledo, Louisville and Kansas City as the Detroit Three start building vehicles again.

Shuttered since late March because of the coronavirus, with hourly and salaried workers sheltering at home, cash-starved companies are eager to safely get the lines running. Now the companies are restarting plants throughout North America.


"Some people are looking forward to coming back and some people are concerned. It's a balance between the two," said Bernie Ricke, president of UAW Local 600, which represents workers at the Ford Rouge complex.


"I think the companies are doing everything they can to protect people's health and safety," he said May 17, noting that workers at Dearborn Truck will work two 10-hour shifts when they usually work three shifts building the popular Ford F-150 pickup.


Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler have implemented new safety protocols that include thermal scanning for high temperatures, daily employee surveys that screen for symptoms, and face masks.


While the companies say they plan to stagger plant activity, the list of manufacturing factories is staggering. 


GM plants opening May 18:


  • Bay City Powertrain
  • Bedford Casting Operations
  • CAMI Assembly in Ingersoll, Ontario
  • Defiance Casting Operations in Ohio
  • Flint Assembly
  • Flint Engine
  • Fort Wayne Assembly in Roanoke, IN
  • GMCH Grand Rapids
  • GMCH Kokomo in Indiana
  • GMCH Rochester in New York
  • Lansing Delta Assembly
  • Orion Assembly in Lake Orion
  • Toledo Transmission in Ohio
  • Tonawanda Engine Plant in New York
  • Romulus Engine
  • Saginaw Metal Casting Operations
  • Spring Hill Manufacturing in Tennessee
  • Toledo Transmission in Ohio
  • Wentzville Assembly in Missouri

GM spokesman Jim Cain said the above plants will start with one-shift and in total about 12,000 hourly and salaried people will be on the job across the plants starting May 19.


Previous reports listed GM’s Arlington plant as starting this week, but GM said it will now start later in the month. Cain said the restart at Arlington was pushed back based on timing of expected supplier deliveries but, “it will follow quickly.”


Schedules for GM plants in Silao and San Luis Petosi in Mexico are pending, he said.


Also opening later this month, the week of May 25, GM’s Bowling Green plant in Kentucky, which builds the Corvette and Corvette engines, and Lansing Grand River Plant, which builds the Camaro and Cadillac.


Fiat Chrysler plants opening May 18:


  • Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit
  • Sterling Heights Assembly Plant
  • Sterling Stamping Plant
  • Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio
  • Toledo Machining Plant
  • Trenton Engine Complex
  • Warren Stamping Plant
  • Warren Truck Assembly Plant


FCA's seven plants in Saltillo and Toluca, Mexico, also are scheduled to restart May 18 subject to governmental approval for the auto industry. 


On May 19, FCA will open the Brampton Assembly Plant in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, and the Windsor Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada.


"Working jointly with the UAW, our employees have worked tirelessly for the past several weeks to implement a comprehensive, multilayered program of enhanced safety measures designed to safeguard our employees," Mark Stewart, COO, FCA North America, told the Free Press in a prepared statement May 17.


"Progressively restarting our operations will be a welcome sign of getting back to normal and for this reason, every decision we have made about restarting our operations has been focused on putting the health and safety of our employees first," he said.


On May 26, FCA will open:


  • Dundee Engine Plant
  • Indiana Transmission Plant 1 in Kokomo, IN
  • Kokomo Casting Plant
  • Kokomo Transmission Plant 
  • Tipton Transmission Plant in Indiana

Then on June 1, FCA will open its Belvidere Assembly Plant and Belvidere Satellite Stamping Plant in Illinois, and the Etobicoke Casting Plant in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 


Ford plants opening May 18:


  • Chicago Assembly Plant
  • Dearborn Truck Plant
  • Flat Rock Assembly
  • Kansas City Assembly in Claycomo, MO
  • Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, KY
  • Louisville Assembly Plant
  • Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne
  • Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake
  • Woodhaven Forging
  • Dearborn Engine and Fuel Tank
  • Cleveland Engine Plant in Ohio
  • Lima Engine Plant in Ohio
  • Rawsonville Components Plant
  • Romeo Engine Plant
  • Buffalo Stamping Plant in New York
  • Chicago Stamping Plant
  • Dearborn Diversified Manufacturing Plant
  • Dearborn Tool and Die
  • Dearborn Stamping Plant
  • Woodhaven Stamping Plant
  • Livonia Transmission Plant
  • Sharonville Transmission Plant in Ohio
  • Sterling Axle Plant
  • Van Dyke Transmission


Plans to open Ford operations in Mexico remain fluid. The Cuautitlan Stamping and Assembly and the Hermosillo Stamping and Assembly plan to open May 18 pending government approval.


On May 19, the Windsor and Essex Engine Plants in Ontario, Canada, open. Later Ford will open the Flat Rock Assembly Plant and Oakville Assembly in Ontario, Canada, on May 26.


Kelli Felker, Ford global manufacturing and communications manager, said, "We are looking forward to welcoming our employees back to our facilities with all of the proper safety protocols in place to keep them healthy and safe in the workplace."


UAW President Rory Gamble, who has been cautious and concerned about rushing to restart too soon, said May 17 the companies and their workers are ready. The UAW represents an estimated 150,000 members employed by the Detroit Three in the U.S. and Canada.


“We would like to thank the many UAW members who have worked so hard throughout the shutdown to keep the plants ready for today, as well as members who have worked to reconfigure plants for the safety of all," Gamble said in prepared remarks.


"The UAW will continue to do everything we can to protect the health and safety of all members as plants reopen," he said. "And we will continue to advocate for as much testing as possible and full testing as it becomes available.”


We thank the Detroit Free Press for reprint permission. 

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