Senate votes to avert rail strike amid dire warnings

Fiat Chrysler 're-evaluating' May 4 resumption date

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV on Monday said it is delaying indefinitely its plans to resume vehicle production in North America. It previously said it would progressively ramp up manufacturing starting May 4.

"In light of the updated state stay in place orders, the Company is re-evaluating its plans to resume its North American operations and will communicate new restart dates in due course," the automaker said in a statement.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is "re-evaluating" its plans to resume production on May 4 in North America.

General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. already have indefinitely delayed their restarts, as the companies evaluate employee safety and their global supply chain. Restrictions on manufacturing determined by foreign and state governments are frequently in flux.

Discussions between Detroit's three automakers and the state of Michigan are coalescing around May 18 as a possible resumption date, said one person familiar with the situation that was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. But plans remain extremely fluid, said that person and another who were not permitted to speak publicly on the discussions.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday extended Michigan's stay-at-home order until May 15 from May 1. United Auto Workers President Rory Gamble on Thursday had said an early May date is "too risky" without sufficient data to ensure workers' safety.

GM last week told some employees that plant leadership might seek volunteers this week "to support our restart planning," according to an alert sent to at least two plants and obtained by The News. GM confirmed it was "notifying a small number of team members, primarily salaried and skilled trades employees, that we may need them to report to work soon."

Some Ford employees on Monday also returned to their plants for preparations, Gamble said in an update to members. He, however, emphasized the union does not have a restart date yet.

"Our concern here, first and foremost, is for the safety of our members and their families," he wrote. "And that will be the determining factor in when we feel it is safe to reopen these facilities. We will not move on this point."

FCA on Monday did resume production at the Sevel plant it operates with its pending merger partner, French automaker Groupe PSA, in Atessa, Italy, as the government there loosens restrictions. It was the Italian American automaker's first plant reopen outside China.

"FCA is continuing to work diligently to implement the safety measures across its North American operations that will reassure our employees of their health and well-being in their workplace," the company said. "As a global FCA family, we are sharing best practices that have enabled the restart of operations at our plants in China and this week, with the support of the unions, at our Italian plants."

These protocols include temperature monitoring, redesigning work stations for social distancing, expanding cleaning practices and requiring masks. Employees also are being given gloves daily and safety glasses to use when they disinfect their work areas.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble