DETROIT — Union leaders at one of Ford Motor Co.'s largest U.S. assembly plants say the automaker has not consistently followed the protocols it created to keep workers safe since restarting production last month.
UAW Local 249, which represents more than 7,000 workers who make the F-150 pickup and Transit van at the Kansas City Assembly Plant, said on Facebook that it planned to file safety complaints over "failures of the company to follow COVID-19 protocols and to provide safe working conditions for our members." The local said plant management has failed to properly screen workers for symptoms of the virus and to adequately clean work equipment.
"The return to work from the layoff created by the COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a significant amount of challenges to KCAP," Local 249 leaders wrote. "These challenges have also revealed the unfortunate reality that the company is backsliding on its public commitment to put people over production and profits during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. With multiple confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 at KCAP. The Local 249 leadership is not satisfied and not convinced of the company's intention to live up to the standards outlined in its own return-to-work protocol."
Ford disputed the local's claim that the plant is violating company protocols.
"Working closely with the UAW and external experts in infectious disease and epidemiology, we have developed safety standards to protect our work force," a Ford spokeswoman said in a statement. "We follow those protocols at all Ford facilities globally, including Kansas City Assembly Plant. Our safety protocol continues to evolve as we learn more about COVID-19."
The complaints from Local 249 highlight the concerns some workers have felt since Ford and other automakers resumed production in mid-May. Even with safety measures in place, Ford has been forced to temporarily halt production at multiple plants the past few weeks as positive COVID-19 cases spring up.
Last week, the Kansas City plant's Transit line was briefly stopped after a worker tested positive.
Local 249 said it has set up an email address for workers to report concerns and also created a Web page and online form workers can fill out.
The local, one of Ford's largest, has been vocal on Facebook in the past, including during contract negotiations last fall, when Chairman Jim Fisher and President Jason Starr acknowledged a "significant amount of frustration" among its members but urged them to vote in favor of a new four-year labor pact, which ultimately was ratified.
Starr was not immediately available to comment Wednesday morning.