Ford stops production lines for a week in Chicago, 3 more sites

Despite a swing to profitable operations in 2021, the company continues to face a global shortage of microchips.

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A worker at Ford’s Chicago plant positions a door for mounting on an Explorer in 2019.

A worker at Ford’s Chicago plant positions a door for mounting on an Explorer in 2019.

Sun-Times file

Ford said Monday it is stopping production for a week in Chicago and at three other locations in the U.S. and Mexico, citing the ongoing shortage of microchips needed to run vehicles’ electronics.

The shutdowns will last this week, said Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker. The Chicago plant, at 12600 S. Torrence Ave., produces the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator SUVs and the Police Interceptor Utility.

The plant has 5,800 employees, most covered by a United Auto Workers contract. The union has said that, counting state unemployment benefits, workers get 75% to 80% of their pay during closures.

“The global semiconductor shortage continues to affect Ford’s North American plants — along with automakers and other industries around the world,” Felker said. “Behind the scenes, we have teams working on how to maximize production, with a continued commitment to building every high-demand vehicle for our customers with the quality they expect.”

The other closures curtail output of the F-150 pickup, the Ranger, Bronco and the Mustang Mach-E. The assembly plants are in Wayne, Michigan; outside Kansas City in Claycomo, Missouri; and Cuautitlan, Mexico.

Ford also said its truck production plant in Dearborn, Michigan, and its Transit vehicle production in Claycomo will run on one shift for the week.

The announcement follows Ford’s release last week of final 2021 earnings that rattled investors because they came in below expectations, sending its stock price down. After accounting changes, it posted a 2021 profit of $17.94 billion versus a loss amid the pandemic disruptions of 2020.

Company executives said they expect production to improve this year after a slow start in the first quarter. The company said it expects sales to dealers will rise 10% to 15% this year compared with 2021.

The UAW has a profit-sharing agreement with Ford that will result in members getting an average $7,377 based on the 2021 results, the union said.

Production cutbacks also have been implemented at the Stellantis factory in Belvidere near Rockford. It has worked on just a single shift since July building the Jeep Cherokee.

A spokeswoman said the plant employs about 2,000 workers after having announced 400 layoffs that started last month.

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