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Union wary of Ford plan to reopen plants

Union wary of Ford plan to reopen plants
© Getty

United Auto Workers (UAW), which represents workers at five Ford plants shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, is expressing reservations about the automaker’s plan to resume production in early April.

Ford has announced target reopening dates of April 6 for its Hermosillo, Mexico, factory and April 14 for its Dearborn, Mich.; Louisville, Ky.; and Cleveland plants, as well as the Transit van line at its plant in Kansas City, Mo., The Associated Press reported Thursday.

“We are reviewing with great concern and caution today’s announcement,” UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said in a statement. “Our priority is the health and safety of our members, their families and the American public.”

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The target reopening date would come one day after the tentative end of a stay-at-home order issued by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). The automaker has already extended the closure once after initially imposing it through March 30.

Other automakers do not yet have firm reopening dates, according to the AP, with General Motors saying Thursday that it has not yet established a date and Fiat Chrysler also declining to make an announcement.

Honda, meanwhile, said Thursday that it plans to reopen U.S. and Canadian facilities beginning April 7, pushed back a week from the original target date of March 31. The company shuttered its plants Monday.

The UAW represents about 56,000 Ford workers. Two UAW members, one at Fiat Chrysler’s Detroit and one at Kokomo, Ind., plants, died from coronavirus complications this week, but it was unclear whether they contracted it on the job, the AP said.

The union’s concerns come as front-line workers are increasingly concerned about their potential exposure to the virus.

Sanitation workers in Pittsburgh, who have been deemed essential workers during the pandemic, staged a walkout Wednesday, demanding hazard pay and improved protective equipment and saying they were asked to falsely sign off that they had been tested for the virus. Mayor Bill Peduto’s (D) office told The Hill the form in question was a checklist for symptoms.