By Ben Klayman
DETROIT (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co <F.N> on Thursday outlined the safety measures it will institute to restart its most profitable U.S. plants, expanding on similar efforts by General Motors Co <GM.N> and Fiat Chrysler <FCHA.MI> <FCAU.N> to convince leaders of the United Auto Workers union to send members back to work.
The UAW so far has not agreed to endorse reopening U.S. auto plants, even as workers in Europe and Asia are going back to their jobs. Virtually all U.S. automotive production ground to a halt in March as the number of COVID-19 infections grew rapidly.
Convincing the UAW and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer that it is safe to return to work will be key to reopening plants that are critical for the profitability of Ford and its U.S. rivals. Ford has the largest unionized workforce in the United States with about 56,000 UAW members.
“It’s just really now getting the clarity from our government leaders because we’re ready,” Ford Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley said on a conference call with reporters.
“We want to restart as soon as we can and do it safely,” he added, citing the auto industry’s importance to the U.S. economy with the sector accounting for 6% of U.S. economic output.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman; Additional reporting by Nick Carey in Detroit and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)