U.S. auto plants set for return to pre-pandemic operations

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June 19 (UPI) -- The "Big Three" U.S. automakers -- Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler -- all plan to resume normal plant operations within the next two weeks, the companies said.

Ford Motor Co. said Friday it will resume pre-pandemic operations on Monday, two weeks ahead of schedule.

The announcement applies to factories at Ford's Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan, Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville and Chicago Assembly. The Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Mo., has already returned to full shifts.

"We are pleased to be able to return to our normal operating pattern in the [United States] on Monday -- which is sooner than expected -- because our workforce and suppliers are able to support," manufacturing manager Kelli Felker said.

Ford has been working with the United Auto Workers union to put safety precautions in place to protect workers from the coronavirus disease.

"I think it will be stressful for all parties to some degree," Louisville union leader Todd Dunn said. "There's a lot of complexity."

The return comes ahead of a production launch for Ford's newly redesigned F-150 pickup, its best-selling vehicle.

Fiat Chrysler said its Belvidere Assembly plant in Illinois will resume pre-pandemic operations beginning Monday, where it assembles the Jeep Cherokee. Spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said plants in Mexico have already returned to pre-pandemic shifts.

General Motors has said it plans to return to full production levels by the end of June.

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