The United Auto Workers union and the Detroit Three automakers have reached a deal to slow production at all three companies amid concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic. The agreement comes after UAW President Rory Gamble publicly called for halting of production at all three companies for two weeks.
The parties reached a deal that includes, “rotating partial shutdown of facilities, extensive deep cleaning of facility and between shifts, extended periods between shifts, and extensive plans to avoid member contact,” the union said in a statement.
Gamble had privately asked Fiat Chrysler, Ford Motor Company and General Motors to cease production for two weeks on Sunday. After getting little to no response he went public Tuesday and threatened to take unilateral action if the three automakers did not develop a plan.
The compromise reached will allow all three automakers to continue building profitable vehicles such as the Ford F-150, Jeep Wrangler and Cadillac Escalade. Effectively all three automakers are going to run significantly reduced schedules that focus on their most profitable models. GM, in particular, is keen to keep Cadillac Escalade production moving as the company starts building its all-new 2021 model this week.
Given the fact vehicles sales are likely to dip in the coming months due to the ongoing pandemic, slowing production will help all three automakers manage inventories. Subsequently, this compromise won’t cost the automakers as much as a total shutdown will.
The UAW also states the automakers have agreed to “work with us in Washington, D.C., on behalf of our members as we manage the disruption in the industry.”
The union has not detailed what type of support or assistance it is seeking from the U.S. government.
All three Detroit based automakers have recently transitioned to allowing most of their salaried employees to work from home. Ford and GM have both reported cases of product development employees testing positive for COVID-19, which led GM to close one of its engineering buildings earlier this week.