Big 3 automakers officially agree to halt North American production through March

Published: Mar. 17, 2020 at 6:37 PM EDT
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GM, FCA and Ford have all confirmed that they will suspend production at their North American manufacturing facilities through the end of March.

The Big 3 automakers will implement a rotating partial shutdown of facilities in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Employees at the Toledo Assembly Complex said they've been concerned about coming to work for days because of the virus. Hundreds of thousands of Jeeps roll off the lines in Toledo every year, and those employees said the high volume means many of them have to be in close contact with coworkers with no way around it.

One worker said he walked off the job Tuesday on his own because of his concerns. Union leaders said the bottom line is that this has been challenging for everyone.

"We have been working really hard since the virus hit," UAW Local 12 President Bruce Baumhower said. "When the CDC said not to have ten people in a room -- we have more than 6,000."

"I have twins that were born early," said Angel Bergman, an employee of Jeep. "One was on oxygen for six months, so his immune system is compromised -- doesn't leave the house, it circles back around."

Baumhower said workers are eligible for unemployment benefits and supplemental unemployment benefits, which were agreed to through the contract with FCA.

According to FCA, the situation will be revisited at the end of the month.

The UAW first announced the move late Tuesday night, adding that there was an agreement to improve social distancing and cleaning at the factories.