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Thursday, 21 May 2020 16:41

Ford Shuts Down Dearborn Truck Plant After Worker Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Written by Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press
A UAW assemblyman works on a 2018 Ford F-150 truck being assembled at the Ford Rouge assembly plant in Dearborn, MI. A UAW assemblyman works on a 2018 Ford F-150 truck being assembled at the Ford Rouge assembly plant in Dearborn, MI. Carlos Osorio, Associated Press


Ford Motor Company shut down its Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan on May 20 after learning a worker tested positive for coronavirus, and released its early shift at about 1:30 p.m.

"They sent everybody home," said a UAW worker who asked not to be named for fear of disciplinary action. "We probably got 800 people there. After lunch, everybody got sent home. They had people start cleaning."


This is the second plant shutdown in two days at Ford because of UAW employees testing positive for the coronavirus, the first being Chicago Assembly on May 19. Dearborn Truck builds the bestselling Ford F-150. Chicago Assembly builds the Ford Explorer, Police Interceptor SUV and Lincoln Aviator.


"The safety of our workforce is our top priority," Kelli Felker, Ford global manufacturing and communications manager, said in a prepared statement.

"When a Dearborn Truck Plant employee who returned to work this week tested positive for COVID-19, we immediately began to notify people known to have been in close contact with the infected individual and asked them to self-quarantine for 14 days. We are deep cleaning and disinfecting the work area, equipment, team area and the path that the team member took. We expect to resume production tonight," she said.


"It is important to note that due to incubation time, we know this employee did not contract COVID-19 while at work," Felker said. "Our protocols are in place to help stop the spread of the virus."


Protocols include temperature screening at plant entrances.


The afternoon of May 20, manufacturing teams at Ford received a text asking that all early shift UAW hourly workers go home.


The Free Press reviewed the text sent to a Ford employee prior to 8 a.m., which said, "The employee who tested positive worked Monday and Tuesday. ... Employee was in the DTP union office yesterday for a period of time. That will have to b sanitized. ... Union official had one on one contact with employee. ... this union official was removed from the plant today and was given a COVID-19 test. He has tested negative. He will b quarantined for 14 days."


The text also said, "Have to send all of A crew home right now. So they can clean before B crew."


The A crew started work at 6 a.m. and was supposed to work a 10-hour shift, and the B crew was scheduled to begin its shift about 6 p.m., according to a UAW worker and a Ford source, both not authorized to speak publicly.


"I'm not gonna be surprised if we get a robocall later telling us not to come in," the UAW worker at Dearborn Truck told the Free Press. "I don't see how you can clean this stuff up in three hours. It's just crazy. I don't think we should be working. I'm not scared of it, but I don't want to be walking around and giving it to people."

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