A Ford supplier to the Kentucky Truck Plant and Louisville Assembly Plant is feeling the pinch from the coronavirus and Ford ending production in North America. The company, called Tower International, has announced that it will be shutting down and laying off workers “tentatively” through March 30th. That shut down mirrors the shutdown Ford has announced.
An email has surfaced from Tower International plant manager Gary Grosso that told employees to “take care of yourself and your family,” noting in closing that “We will get through this together.” It’s no surprise that Ford’s suppliers are shutting their doors. If Ford doesn’t need parts because it’s stopping production, there’s no need for the part suppliers to build the components.
The catch is when Ford wants to reopen production, it will take time for a Ford supplier like Tower International to get geared up and begin producing parts again. WDRB.com says that Grosso referred all questions about the shut down to the company’s corporate headquarters. The publication notes that the company headquarters did not respond to any questions it asked. The Tower International plant builds automotive structural components, and as of 2018 it had 182 full-time employees.
It’s unclear if the employees are unionized or if they will be paid during the shutdown. Some Ford employees are being paid union supplemental pay, but many of them will get no pay during the shutdown and will have to seek state unemployment assistance. President Trump and his administration have pledged to help the automotive industry, but exactly what type of help will be offered is unknown at this time. Some of the manufacturing and automotive industries are calling for the Trump administration to set up a grant fund to help businesses stay afloat until the coronavirus threat passes.