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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


Meanwhile, UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said the labor organization that represents an estimated 150,000 autoworkers employed by Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is continuing to "actively monitor the implementation of all the protocols and how they impact the health and safety of our members, their families and the communities they live in."


Based on information provided to the UAW, according to a source not authorized to discuss the details publicly, neither hourly worker knew at the time they had the virus. Both workers went through screening at the factory entrance without being red-flagged by the temperature scanner, and each answered their self-reporting disclosure surveys honestly. But, the UAW learned May 20, both workers began exhibiting symptoms at work, one thinking it was allergies.


Automakers and union officials have said they're doing everything imaginable to protect hourly and salaried workers, but incidents will happen.


After closing and reopening May 19, Chicago Assembly again shut down briefly May 20 because of a supplier parts shortage. Felker declined to provide details about why the supplier had a shortage issue, saying Ford doesn’t discuss its suppliers.


Hackett said this week during an interview on WJR (AM-760) he is optimistic about restarting the company's factories.


"It is a big problem, but we now have our arms around it. I know that sounds odd given the death rate. But I actually am very encouraged by our ability now to jump on this," he said May 19.


WJR host Paul W. Smith asked about Trump's upcoming visit, and the issue of face mask protocol.


"How does Jim Hackett, Ford Motor Company CEO, deal with someone who wants to come into your Rawsonville manufacturing plant in Ypsilanti without a mask when everyone is asked to wear a mask? What happens when that person who wants to come in this Thursday is the president of the United States?"


Hackett responded the company has a special strategy to address the situation at a plant currently making personal protection equipment (PPE).


“Well, this is an important standard for us. Bill (Ford) and I  … and all the people that this week will be in all of our factories. We’re definitely wearing the PPE. And I believe that the message I’m trying to get to all of our employees is that, look, if you can contribute to the safety of not only yourself but others, this is an important gesture in keeping the confidence high," Hackett said.


"I'll tell you this, we have some really cool what we call swag from my University of Michigan athletic director days that are presidential quality that would enable our president to really support the UAW and Ford and this mission," Hackett said.


Smith then asked, "I suspect you're gonna let the president come in and if he doesn’t want to wear a mask, you’re going to still let him come in?"


Hackett replied, "We’re designing this---we’re wearing masks. I’m going to do my best job to make it really part of the process and celebrate how hard we’ve worked to design and care for our people. So, it’s a big day."


We thank the Detroit Free Press for reprint permission. 

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