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GM, Ford and FCA shutter all North American factories over coronavirus fears

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GM orion assembly
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Detroit’s big three automakers are to shut down all factories due to fears over the coronavirus. Details are still in the works and will be announced shortly.

Over the last few days, United Auto Workers has been pushing the automakers to shut down their factories over concerns of worker safety. UAW President Rory Gamble sent a letter calling on the automakers to shut down for two weeks. It’s unclear if this pressure had any effects on the automakers’ thought process.

Ford and FCA said they intended to only suspend operations at several Michigan-based plants. Early today, Honda announced it was pausing all operations at its 12 North American factories, including transmission and engine plants in Ohio, Indiana, Alabama, Canada and Mexico. Ford and GM followed several hours later. Now, in the afternoon, FCA also decided to close its factories.

At this time it seems the automakers are focusing on manufacturing and assembly plants. Most automakers had already instituted a work-at-home plan for office workers.

Along with these factories owned by major automakers, third-party suppliers will be affected, as their parts will no longer be needed. It’s unclear how many workers will ultimately be affected by these closures.

Tesla is reportedly working through shelter-in-place mandates. Early today, TechCrunch published an internal Tesla memo detailing employee instructions for its Fremont-based factory.

It read, in part, “There are no changes in your normal assignment and you should continue to report to work if you are in an essential function: production, service, deliveries, testing and supporting groups as discussed with your manager.” Tesla’s manufacturing employees, unlike the big three Detroit automakers, are not represented by the United Auto Workers.

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