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Louisville Ford Assembly Plant’s temporary shutdown leaves thousands of workers with unemployment woes

It comes in the midst of a global semiconductor shortage that has previously shutdown local plants
Workers face unemployment woes as Louisville Ford Assembly Plant shuts down until mid-July
Workers face unemployment woes as Louisville Ford Assembly Plant shuts down until mid-July(WAVE 3)
Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 10:22 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As Ford Motor Co. shutters its Louisville Assembly Plant once again, thousands of employees are facing unemployment concerns, according to local union representatives.

A company spokesperson confirmed the plant will shut down the week of May 31 through the week of June 28. UAW Local 862 President Todd Dunn explained the plant was also scheduled to shut down the week of April 24. The plant will shut down again the week of July 5 through the week of July 12 for an expected summer vacation. In total, the plant could be largely closed for at least eight weeks.

“I feel that the [union] membership is very concerned and rightly so, with the uncertainty. It brings challenges at home, right?” Dunn said. “The mental stress — we’re coming out of the pandemic, [and] people are already stressed out. Our membership is weary.”

The Louisville plant employs about 3,900 workers, according to Ford. The shut down comes in the midst of a global semiconductor shortage that has previously shut down local plants and other U.S. facilities; the Louisville Assembly Plant was shut down for two weeks as recently as April.

Through union agreements, full-time workers will receive 75% of their regular pay during the shutdown as supplement unemployment benefits, SUB pay. However, Dunn told WAVE 3 employees are concerned as they must qualify for unemployment through the state before they collect SUB pay or any other benefits.

“The complexity of those issues with unemployment is broad, whether it’s a PIN reset ... or when it was hacked, [their] unemployment was hacked, or disqualifying answers,” Dunn said. “The problem is some of those things that extended further, that happened months ago, [are] just going to compound the issue of getting unemployment for six weeks.”

Dunn said temporary full-time employees (TFTs) do not receive SUB pay so they will likely seek unemployment benefits for the entirety of the eight-week shutdown. He explained UAW Local 862 has received countless calls from union members asking for help navigating unemployment and those concerns were taken to state officials.

“We’re really focusing on addressing those issues. Matter of fact, I talked to the governor yesterday, I talked with the secretary of labor today [Thursday]... When you have that many people hitting the unemployment system, you’ve got to have a plan,” he said.

Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant will also face a two-week shut down in June according to Dunn; the plant employs nearly 9,000 people.

Dunn said union members looking for unemployment help should contact union benefits representatives.

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