COVID-19 Ford Truck Plant Fears: Workers File Safety Complaints

Not a day has gone by since the auto assembly plants opened last week that we don’t see Ford plant closings or complaints about safety. Specifically, the Kansas City Assembly Plant that assembles Ford F150 trucks and Transit vans is having more problems. Now the UAW says workers will file safety complaints about COVID-19 fears at the truck plant.

Union leaders say the safety protocols it helped Ford establish to stop the spread of the coronavirus are not being followed. The plant, represented by Union Local 249, has over 7,000 workers and is one of the largest of the Ford empire.  From its Facebook posts, it says that the safety complaints represent “failures of the company to follow COVID-19 protocols and to provide safe working conditions for our members.”

There have been two specific UAW safety complaints leveled at Ford management

A pickup truck assembly line with different colored trucks being produced.
A pickup truck assembly line | W. Smith/Getty Images

Two specific UAW complaints are leveled at Ford. One says that plant management failed to screen workers for virus symptoms properly. The other is that the plant does not adequately clean work equipment. “The return to work from the layoff created by the COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a significant amount of challenges to KCAP,” Local 249 leaders wrote. “These challenges have also revealed the unfortunate reality that the company is backsliding on its public commitment to put people over production and profits during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. With multiple confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 at KCAP. The Local 249 leadership is not satisfied and not convinced of the company’s intention to live up to the standards outlined in its own return-to-work protocol.”

But Ford disputes the UAW’s claims. In a statement to Automotive News, it said, “Working closely with the UAW and external experts in infectious disease and epidemiology, we have developed safety standards to protect our workforce. We follow those protocols at all Ford facilities globally, including the Kansas City Assembly Plant. Our safety protocol continues to evolve as we learn more about COVID-19.”

At over 7,000 local union members the Ford Truck Plant is one of Ford’s largest

Workers assemble cars at the newly renovated Ford's Assembly Plant in Chicago
Workers assemble cars at the newly renovated Ford’s Assembly Plant in Chicago | JIM YOUNG/AFP/Getty Images

This is not the first Ford plant to experience problems. The first day plants reopened the Ford Chicago Assembly Plant had to be shut down twice when a worker on each shift tested positive for coronavirus. Ford’s Dearborn Truck Assembly Plant also shut down the first day upon reopening.

So it is understandable that workers are extremely cautious and on edge, since the company has resumed production. The union also has a very active Facebook page that keeps the workers connected. When there are concerns Facebook is used to spread news and information.

When COVID-19 cases do crop up it is because of the testing

Ford Dearborn Truck Plant Builds New 2014 F-150 Trucks
DEARBORN, MI – JUNE 13: New 2014 Ford F-150 trucks are prepared to come off the assembly line at the Ford Dearborn Truck Plant June 13, 2014 in Dearborn, Michigan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Already Two Ford Plants Shut Down For Three COVID-19 Positive Cases

Workers are put through a temperature scanner and daily health screening process. When COVID-19 cases do crop up it is because of the testing at the plants. That’s why the tests are performed at each plant in the first place. 

Once someone tests positive there are a series of procedures the company goes through. Anyone in close proximity to the worker is notified and is asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. Work stations and other areas the infected worker might have been are deep cleaned and disinfected. 

Let’s hope the concerns of the workers are addressed and resolved quickly.