With the automotive industry coming to a standstill due to the effects of the COVID-19 (or Coronavirus) crisis, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced that around 2,000 of the company’s nearly 3,000 supplemental contract workers, who are not union-represented in the United States, Canada, as well as Mexico. According to several reports, FCA is suspending a number of developmental projects for the time being.
The decision comes as Detroit’s “Big Three” has suspended manufacturing operations and several states, including Michigan, have enforced stay-at-home executive orders to prevent the virus from spreading.
“In light of the challenges created by the COVID-19 situation, and the various ‘stay at home’ orders from multiple states, a number of development projects within FCA have been temporarily put on hold,” the automaker said in a statement.” “As a result of this, subcontract companies who were providing external support to a number of these projects have been asked to temporarily suspend their activities as we reprioritize certain initiatives and projects.”
While General Motors (GM) and Ford Motor Company are borrowing billions from existing credit facilities to ensure financial flexibility, it looks like FCA is trying to tighten down and ensure a strong future without borrowing cash from lenders. Currently, FCA manufacturing plants are down through the end of March, according to the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. The union told its members on Tuesday, that it expects the automaker to extend its downtime.
According to several sources, FCA’s Mopar parts distribution centers have remained open with a paid voluntary workforce. However, on Wednesday, the company shut down its center in Center Line, Michigan after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. FCA is currently performing a deep-cleaning of the facility. The UAW also announced that a third UAW-FCA employee has passed away from issues relating to the virus. The employee worked at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Warren, Michigan, which builds the 2020 Ram 1500 Classic pickups.
FCA has yet to announce when manufacturing operation will restart, however, the company has announced it will in the meantime manufacture and donate one million masks for first responders and health care workers during the current time. More information on those efforts is expected to come next week as some operations are being added to current FCA facilities.