The global semiconductor shortage plaguing the auto industry is forcing Ford to cut the number of shifts at the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville and shut down the Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake this week.
Ohio Assembly will be down completely and Kentucky Truck will be working two of three shifts because of a parts shortage, Kelli Felker, Ford global manufacturing and labor communications manager, said Monday.
Both plants are scheduled to return to full production on Monday, March 29.
Just Thursday, Ford announced that it would be building F-150 pickups without all the parts needed because of the parts shortage.
"The global semiconductor shortage — combined with parts shortages created by the central U.S. winter storm in February — is prompting Ford to build F-150 trucks and Edge SUVs in North America without certain parts, including some electronic modules that contain scarce semiconductors," the company said in a news release.
"Ford will build and hold the vehicles for a number of weeks, then ship the vehicles to dealers once the modules are available and comprehensive quality checks are complete," Ford said last week.
At Kentucky Truck, Ford UAW members build Super Duty trucks, the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. At Ohio Assembly, Ford workers build the E-series Vans, Super Duty chassis cabs and medium-duty trucks.
Semiconductors, also called chips, are integral in automobile automation, digital connectivity and security, among other things — powering items from brakes to windshield wipers. As cars have continually modernized, the reliance on semiconductors also has increased.
The pandemic has disrupted the supply chain, affecting various industries including automobile production both domestic and foreign.
"People understand it’s affecting (production) across the whole industry," said Todd Dunn, president of UAW Local 862, which includes 14,300 members working at the Kentucky Truck Plant and Louisville Assembly Plant. "I like what (New York Sen.) Chuck Schumer said, that we need to build our own semiconductor plant here in the United States."
Felker confirmed Monday no additional shift cuts or closures are scheduled this week, though the situation is fluid.
"We are working closely with suppliers to address potential production constraints tied to the global semiconductor shortage and working to prioritize key vehicle lines for production, making the most of our semiconductor allocation," she said.
Laid-off UAW members get about 75% of their gross pay, which is part of the negotiated labor contract.
UAW workers considered temporary full-time don't qualify for full benefits during layoffs.
"You worry about them, just coming out of the pandemic," Dunn said Monday. "You worry about everybody."©2021 www.freep.com. Visit at freep.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.