AVON LAKE, Ohio — The Ford Ohio Assembly Plant located in Avon Lake has been shuttered as the company deals with parts shortages stemming from the truck blockade at the border by Canadians protesting the country's COVID-19 restrictions.
Protesters are blocking travel from the U.S. into Canada at key border crossings as demonstrators protest against COVID-19 restrictions and against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
On Friday, Ford said in a statement that the interruptions on the Ambassador Bridge that connects Detroit with Windsor, Ontario are impacting customers, auto workers, suppliers, communities and companies on both sides of the border, and as a result of the border protests, the Ohio Assembly Plant is now down, while plants in Oakville, Ontario and Windsor, Ontario are running at reduced capacity.
Ford had already reduced operations at plants because of the ongoing semiconductor shortage happening across the globe. The company has been working since the start of the pandemic to address the issue, and many plants have undergone shutdowns as a result of the shortages.
Because of the effects of the protests and the semiconductor shortages, the Ohio Assembly Plant will be closed through the week of Feb. 14, if not longer. The Kansas City Assembly Transit plant will also be shut down during that time.
The Ohio Plant has about 1,600 hourly workers. The local Union Facebook page posted Friday to alert its members and offer instructions on how to file unemployment.
Case Western Reserve University Professor Juscelino Colares said this puts an already stressed auto-industry supply chain, in a horrible position. He called it a nightmare.
"They're designed to operate efficiently, which means if you lose one important part and you're already running low in inventory, this has cascading effects," Colares said.
Colares said the time is now for not only Canadian officials to open up conversation with the truckers, but also President Joe Biden's administration to do the same.
"It behooves the Prime Minister, knowing how much these supply chains are at stake, to actually treat these people seriously instead of just insulting them," he said, adding that the truckers are asking for an open dialogue. "We need to see the Secretary of Transportation on this. We haven't seen it. Act on this. And we haven't seen Canadian authorities come up with alternative solutions."
Ford said that all other North American plants will be running the week of Feb. 14, with some plants operating with fewer shifts while still producing vehicles. The Kentucky Truck and Chicago Assembly plants will both operate on two crews, while the Dearborn Truck plant will run on one crew.
Senator Sherrod Brown—who has been in contact with Ford, as well as the UAW, the American Automotive Policy Council, the Great Lakes Port Association and the Canadian Embassy—is continuing to monitor the situation at the border and how it is impacting the American auto industry.
“The truckers protesting are not just obstructing supply chains – they are affecting the livelihoods of millions of workers in the auto industry in the U.S. and Canada. Canadian officials should take all necessary and appropriate measures to reopen traffic so that we can continue to grow our economy," Brown said in a statement.
A spokesperson for General Motors said in a statement Friday:
We continue to work with our suppliers to mitigate any issues that arise from the border issue. All of GM’s operations began on schedule this morning, however, GM’s assembly plants in Ingersoll, Ontario and Flint, Michigan ended first shift early due to a part shortage. Production resumed on 2nd shift. Beyond that, no additional issues to report.
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