LOUISVILLE, Ky. – After a week-long shutdown, one of Louisville’s Ford Motor Co. factories could halt production for another two weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the supply chain.
Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker confirmed to the Courier Journal on Tuesday that there was an interim shutdown planned for the Louisville assembly plant for the weeks of January 25 and February 1. She declined to comment further.
If the shutdown occurs, approximately 3,900 hourly workers at the plant will be without regular pay for three of the first five weeks of the year. This follows a planned annual hiatus around the Christmas holidays at the end of last year.
Ford pumped the brakes on work at the Louisville plant last week to “address the potential production constraints associated with the global semiconductor shortage,” Felker previously told the Courier Journal. The workers returned to the factory on Tuesday.
As with the first shutdown, during the two-week temporary shutdown, UAW workers would receive around 75% of their regular wages, Felker confirmed on Tuesday.
UAW Local 862 President Todd Dunn told the Courier Journal on Wednesday that employees received a robocall last week about the shutdown and said it was likely, although he added that there had been no official notification.
Asked again on the matter on Wednesday, Felker said the shutdown was still provisional.
The Dearborn, Mich. Automaker is one of many auto-manufacturing giants, including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the Volkswagen Group, to feel the pain of the slowdown in semiconductor production.
Semiconductors, or chips, are integral to automotive automation, digital connectivity, and security, among others – powering things from brakes to wipers. And as cars have continually modernized, so has the use of semiconductors.
Yet as car sales plummeted towards the onset of the pandemic, auto parts suppliers began to cut orders, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. And as these vendors looked to increase their inventories towards the end of the year, they struggled to get the quantity they wanted from semiconductor manufacturers.
Felker did not respond by email on Tuesday to whether the interim shutdown was related to the global semiconductor shortage and what Ford is doing to address it.
The Louisville Assembly Plant produces the company’s Ford Escape and Lincoln Corsair. Meanwhile, the Kentucky Truck Plant off Chamberlain Lane assembles the Super Duty Pickup, Ford Expedition, and Lincoln Navigator.
Ford has not stopped production at the Kentucky truck plant so far this year.