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Ford shuts down Dearborn Truck Plant after worker tests positive for coronavirus

Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Company shut down its Dearborn Truck Plant on Wednesday afternoon because of coronavirus, releasing its early shift of UAW hourly workers around 1:30 p.m.

"They sent everybody home," said a UAW worker who asked not to be named for fear of disciplinary action. "We probably got 800 people there. After lunch, everybody got sent home. They had people start cleaning."

This is the second plant shutdown in two days at Ford because of UAW employees testing positive for the coronavirus, the first being Chicago Assembly on Tuesday. Dearborn Truck builds the bestselling Ford F-150.

On Wednesday afternoon, manufacturing teams at Ford received a text asking that all early shift UAW hourly workers go home.

The Free Press reviewed a copy of the text sent to a Ford employee, which said, "The employee who tested positive worked Monday and Tuesday. Was removed from the floor today an hour into the shift. Employee was in the DTP union office yesterday for a period of time. That will have to b sanitized. Also, employee was on his job and over the past 2 days and had to be reminded to put his mask on while working. Union official had one on one contact with employee regarding his not wearing a mask. this union official was removed from the plant today and was given a COVID-19 test. He has tested negative. He will b quarantined for 14 days."

The text also said, "Have to send all of A crew home right now. So they can clean before B crew."

The A crew started work at 6 a.m. and was supposed to work a 10-hour shift, and the B crew was scheduled to begin its shift around 6 p.m., according to a UAW worker and a Ford source, both not authorized to speak publicly.

"I'm not gonna be surprised if we get a robocall later telling us not to come in," the UAW worker at Dearborn Truck told the Free Press. "I don't see how you can clean this stuff up in three hours. It's just crazy. I don't think we should be working. I'm not scared of it, but I don't want to be walking around and giving it to people."

 

The worker noted that factory workers have paper masks, face shields and gloves. The worker said supervisors told workers the employee sent home worked in the chassis department on line three. A source at Ford confirmed the area of the contaminated worker.

"The employee who tested positive had to be reminded numerous times by management and union officials to wear his mask while working," a Ford source told the Free Press. "This is a situation not if it was going to happen but when it was going to happen. It's going to take three to four cases for Ford to shut down the facilities. They're not going to shut down Dearborn Truck for one case. We're going to have to see, if the guy is working the line with no mask, you've got cars going down the line. If he's coughing? The investigation has just started."

A spokeswoman for Ford couldn't be immediately reached for comment on the Dearborn Truck situation.

Kelli Felker, Ford global manufacturing and communications manager, said early Wednesday in response to the Chicago Assembly shutdown, "Because of known incubation periods of the highly contagious virus, we know these employees did not contract COVID-19 while at work. Our protocols are in place to help stop the spread of the virus."

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