General Motors Company GM, Ford Motor Company F and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV FCAU are forming a task force, along with the United Auto Workers union to develop COVID-19 safety protocols for employees of the Big 3 automakers.
The move comes as two of the companies announced some European plant shutdowns as the virus spreads.
What To Know
The companies and union said Monday that UAW President Rory Gamble, GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett and Fiat Chrysler CEO Michael Manley will lead the task force.
"Workplace health and safety is a priority for us every day, all three companies have been taking steps to keep the COVID-19/coronavirus out of their facilities and during this national emergency, we will do even more working together,” the UAW's Gamble said in a statement. “We are focused on doing the right thing for our people, their families, our communities and the country. All options related to protecting against exposure to the virus are on the table.”
Ford Shuts Down Spanish Factory
Ford officials confirmed over the weekend it has shut down a factory in Valencia, Spain after three new COVID-19 cases were reported at the plant within a 24-hour period.
The Spanish plant employs about 5,400 and is one of Ford's largest outside the United States. Among the vehicles it assembles is the Ford Transit Connect delivery van. The plant had already planned to stop production for three days this week to try to slow the spread of the virus, which has ramped up dramatically in Spain in recent days. A Ford spokeswoman said officials are meeting with unions and the length of the closure will be disscussed this week.
Ford also said that so far, it has no reported COVID-19 cases at any U.S. plants.
FCAU Halts European Production
Fiat Chrysler said it will halt production for two weeks at most of its plants in Europe in a bid to slow the pandemic. The move also comes as European demand is expected to drop as economies there slump in the face of the disease outbreak.
Fiat said six plants in Italy would halt production, along with one in Serbia and one in Poland. Fiat makes about 25% of its vehicles in Europe.
The auto supply chain has been affected by the disease outbreak, making production more difficult anyway. And in Italy, one of the world's hardest-hit countries, nobody can buy a car right now, with nearly all consumer businesses, including dealerships, shut down by the government.
Ford stock was hit hard in pre-market trading, down more than 9% at $5.10. GM stock was also getting battered, down about 13% Monday morning to $21.51. Fiat Chrysler stock was up 0.42% to $10.02.
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