Plant shutdowns could impact freight demand, supplies

by Today's Trucking


TORONTO, Ont. – Automotive manufacturers and their suppliers have begun temporarily closing North American plants in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company announced it will suspend manufacturing through the Americas until at least April 3, or until further notice. This will include tire, retread and chemical plants in Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and the U.S. It has already suspended production in Peru.

“The company will closely monitor the local conditions surrounding its warehouse and distribution operations, as well as inventory and supply levels to continue delivery of Goodyear products,” it said in a release.

“To further protect the health and wellbeing of its associates, customers and communities, which remain Goodyear’s top priority, the company is following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and has introduced a number of preventive measures at its facilities, including limiting visitor access and business travel, implementing remote working and social distancing practices and increasing frequency of disinfection.”

Auto factories closed

The Big Three automakers – GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler (FCA) – also announced North American plant closures, in response to pressure from the United Auto Workers (UAW) union to take action to protect workers. A total of 25 factories are being temporarily closed.

“GM and the UAW have always put the health and safety of the people entering GM plants first, and we have agreed to a systematic, orderly suspension of production to aid in fighting Covid-19/coronavirus,” said GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We have been taking extraordinary precautions around the world to keep our plant environments safe and recent developments in North America make it clear this is the right thing to do now.”

“UAW members, their families and our communities will benefit from today’s announcement with the certainty that we are doing all that we can to protect our health and safety during this pandemic,” added UAW president Rory Gamble. “This will give us time to review best practices and to prevent the spread of this disease. We appreciate General Motors’ actions today and will continue to work with them on health and safety plans to be implemented when we resume production.”

Ford temporarily closed its Michigan Assembly Plant building Wednesday after an employee tested positive for Covid-19. Production there will be halted through the end of the month.

“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 these unprecedented times, we’re exploring unique and creative solutions to support our workforce, customers, dealers, suppliers and communities.”

Ford, GM, Fiat Chrysler and the UAW have formed a coronavirus task force in Canada, and are forming one in the U.S. as well.

“Together, we’ll continue finding solutions and best practices that help keep workers at our plants and parts distribution centers healthy and safe throughout our operations,” said Gary Johnson, chief manufacturing and labor affairs officer with Ford.

“Working with the UAW, and having visited many of our plants yesterday, we need to ensure employees feel safe at work and that we are taking every step possible to protect them. We will continue to do what is right for our people through this period of uncertainty,” said FCA CEO Mike Manley.

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