U.S. auto giant Ford said Thursday it plans to reopen some of its key assembly plants in less than three weeks, in a decision that quickly drew concern from union workers over safety.
The automaker said it aims to restart production at its Hermosillo, Mexico, plant on April 6 and four U.S. plants that make trucks, sport-utility vehicles and vans in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Kansas City eight days later. Five other manufacturing facilities that supply the assembly plants with parts will also go back online.
All the Ford facilities closed last week under pressure from the United Auto Workers to review best practices for worker safety during the coronavirus outbreak.
After spending several days working toward an agreement with UAW, Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler agreed to “rotating” partial plant shutdowns to protect workers from the spread of the disease.
Ford’s announcement Thursday came after President Donald Trump said this week he wanted the U.S. economy to fully return by Easter Sunday, April 12.
Experts and health officials are critical of Trump’s remarks and Ford’s move to reopen plants. The World Health Organization said cases in the Americas region increased by more than 11,000 from Tuesday to Wednesday.
“We are reviewing with great concern and caution [Ford’s] announcement,” the UAW said in a statement. “Our priority is the health and safety of our members, their families and the American public.”
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