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How GM, Ford plants in Missouri are handling coronavirus

  

With concerns over the spread of COVID-19 ongoing, major automakers announced the halt of production at plants across the nation this week. 

For Missouri, that leaves two factories bookending the state impacted: General Motors (GM) in Wentzville and Ford in Claycomo. More than 10,000 people are employed at the assembly plants combined. 

At least 24 people in Missouri have tested positive for coronavirus thus far in Missouri with one fatality. On a national level, nearly 100 people have died as more than 7,000 individuals have tested positive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

In an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus amid the global pandemic, businesses, schools, and many governmental operations have shuttered. The Trump administration’s guidelines include avoiding groups of more than 10 people. 

Here’s a look at how coronavirus concerns and precautions are impacting the two automotive assembly plants in Missouri. 

General Motors

GM announced on March 18 it would conduct a “systematic orderly suspension of manufacturing operations in North America” in an effort to ensure facilities are clean. The suspension is slated to last until March 30 with production status evaluated on a week-to-week basis going forward. 

But just what that means for the Wentzville plant — which employees about 345 salaried people and 2,803 hourly workers — is not yet clear. 

“The situation is incredibly fluid and evolving for all of our sites, including Wentzville,” a GM spokesman said in an email to The Missouri Times. 

Glenn Kage Jr., UAW Local 2250 president, said an agreement had been made between GM and the union to eliminate weekend shifts and overtime and set shift times to seven hours at the Wentzville plant. 

“We do not think this went far enough for the safety of our members,” Kage said in a video message. “We are advocating for a complete shutdown for a minimum of two weeks.”

Kage added Local 2250 trips and events have been temporarily suspended while the union hall will continue to be operational in a limited capacity. 

The plant — which produces the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize trucks, as well as Chevy Express and GMC Savana full-size vans — is the site of a planned $1.5 billion investment by GM, the company announced late last year. 

Ford 

Ford said it would “temporarily stop production at its plants in North America and Europe” beginning on March 19 to “protect the health and safety of employees and respond to issues with the supply chain and other restraints.” 

Ford employs about 7,250 individuals, including approximately 6,900 hourly workers, at its assembly plant in Claycomo, just north of Kansas City. The facility handles the Ford F-150 and Transit. 

“The company will work with labor representatives to safely and effectively restart production in the weeks to come,” Ford said in a news release Thursday. 

For the Transit System, production is scheduled to run as planned through the end of the night shift on March 19; by March 20, no production employees will be working at the assembly plant, UAW Local 249 said in guidance to workers. 

For the week of March 23, no production employees are to report to work unless notified by a supervisor, the Local 249 bulletin said. 

As for the Truck System, no production employees are to report to work on March 20 except for B-Crew Pre-Delivery on Friday evening and C-Crew Pre-Delivery for Friday and Saturday day shifts and the Sunday night shift. 

All temporary part-time (TPT) employees will be on layoff and could be eligible for state unemployment benefits, according to the bulletin. 


EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.