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Detroit automakers to close down factories



America’s three largest automakers are reportedly closing down U.S. operations after union workers expressed concerns over the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

A General Motors spokesperson told The Hill that the automaker is suspending operation in North America until March 30 and will assess on a week-to-week basis from then on when they would resume.

Ford Motor Co. also said it would suspend production through March 30, The Associated Press reported, while Fiat-Chrysler was expected to announce the shutting down of its factories as well.

The shutdowns come after the United Auto Workers (UAW) union announced Tuesday evening that they had reached a deal with GM, Ford and Fiat-Chrysler to “review and implement” a rotating partial shutdown of facilities.

“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,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “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 President Rory Gamble previously asked for a two-week shutdown of the companies’ U.S. operations last week, but the request was denied. The union began a 48-hour period of negotiations with the companies, in which Gamble said that if union leadership is “not satisfied that our members will be protected, we will take this conversation to the next level.”

UAW confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in a member on March 12: a Fiat-Chrysler worker in a plant in Indiana, a facility that has yet to shut down.

“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,” Gamble said in a statement. “This will give us time to review best practices and to prevent the spread of this disease. We appreciate General Motor’s actions today and will continue to work with them on health and safety plans to be implemented when we resume production.”



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