Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp and Fiat Chrysler have all decided to halt production as the coronavirus continues to spread.
The automakers' actions are sure to significantly impact local automotive suppliers like Glendale-based Strattec Security Corp. (NYSE: STRT), which supplies lock systems to the companies, and Adient plc (NYSE: ADNT), an automotive seating and interior manufacturer with corporate offices at 833 E. Michigan St. in downtown Milwaukee.
Ford announced Wednesday it will halt operations in the United States, Canada and Mexico. This is the latest action from the Coronavirus Task Force Ford formed alongside General Motors Co., Fiat Chrysler and the United Auto Workers union to implement protections for its employees. Fiat Chrysler and GM also are halting production, according to several media reports.
Ford (NYSE: F) will temporarily cease operations Thursday evening through March 30 to clean and sanitize the company’s plants. General Motors has temporarily suspended production at all North American manufacturing plants due to market conditions caused by the coronavirus.
The GM suspension will last until at least March 30, officials said in a statement. Over the next few weeks, officials will deep clean facilities.
Such work stoppages can have a harsh effect on Milwaukee-area manufacturers like Strattec and Adient. Following a more than a month-long strike at GM last year, Adient furlough all salaried non-plant employees in the U.S. for the weeks of Nov. 25 and Dec. 30, affecting about 1,300 employees. Strattec reported that the strike cost it about $3 million in revenue. And those impacts were for just one automaker. Both Strattec and Adient serve all three automakers.
In the meantime, Ford said it would be collaborating with the UAW on how to structure and restart plants with the health and safety of its workforce in mind.
“We’re continuing to work closely with union leaders, especially the United Auto Workers, to find ways to help keep our workforce healthy and safe — even as we look at solutions for continuing to provide the vehicles customers really want and need,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of North America, in a news release. “In these unprecedented times, we’re exploring unique and creative solutions to support our workforce, customers, dealers, suppliers and communities.”
Todd Dunn, president of UAW Local 862, had been advocating for at least a two-week shutdown to contain the virus and alleviate worker fears. He could not comment at this time but said he would be meeting with officials Wednesday evening or Thursday morning to get the most accurate information.
According to a news release, one of the greatest challenges to getting back to work is adhering to social distancing on the production floors and between shift changes, as that’s when the majority of employees gather at entry and exit points. The auto giant has already ceased operations temporarily at several European plants as well.