General Motors and the UAW reached an agreement that will allow the automaker to continue delivering service and repair parts, despite parts facility shutdowns during the coronavirus pandemic.
"While today will be our last day of normal operations for GM Customer Care and Aftersales, GM and the UAW have reached an agreement that will allow us to continue delivering service and repair parts to our dealers and customers, including the police agencies, fire departments and emergency service providers who rely on our vehicles all over the country," GM said in a statement.
GM has 19 parts distribution centers in the U.S. The facilities will be staffed on a voluntary basis, spokesman Jim Cain said. "We will be working through staffing and scheduling plans to resume operations on Monday," he said.
Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler also intend to keep parts distribution centers open. Beginning Monday, parts centers will run with a voluntary paid work force, Ford said.
“Ford is taking additional actions to keep our work force in our parts distribution centers safe, while continuing to provide parts for customers – focusing on emergency services,” spokeswoman Kelli Felker said.
Following an agreement with the UAW, FCA said it will begin operating its Mopar Parts Distribution Centers using hourly-paid volunteers beginning March 23.
"Throughout this challenging period, FCA has been focused on enabling a stable supply of parts to our dealers to help keep our customers on the road. Be they first responders driving ambulances and fire trucks or commercial needs such as delivery and postal services, FCA and its dealers are working to keep all our customers operational," the automaker said in a statement.
FCA said it has implemented "an extensive program of cleaning and social distancing protocols" at all parts centers, and that all employee volunteers will be equipped with gloves and masks.
GM and Ford plan to close all manufacturing sites in North America until March 30 to help curb the spread of the virus. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will suspend production until March 31.
Separately, GM said Friday is it also partnering with Ventec, a medical device maker, to increase ventilator output.
Some health care experts are warning the nation's hospitals face a severe shortage of ventilators as the U.S. braces for a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Ventec and GM said they will leverage the automaker’s logistics, purchasing and manufacturing operations to build more ventilators.
“We are working closely with Ventec to rapidly scale up production of their critically important respiratory products to support our country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “We will continue to explore ways to help in this time of crisis.”
Michael Martinez and David Phillips contributed to this report.