The economic impact from the coronavirus continues to take its toll as Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky announced it will extend its production shutdown and release its entire variable or temporary workforce.
TMMK, along with all Toyota manufacturing plants in North America, extended its shutdown to May 4. TMMK’s first production shutdown March 21 was originally scheduled for three days, but later extended to April 6, then extended to April 20 and now to May 4.
In each case, permanent employees or team members have received some pay along with options for “paid time off” or unpaid time off. This extension is no different, with team members receiving pay for four days each week and the ability to use one day of paid time off if available or unpaid time off on the additional day.
This time, however, some 1,800 variable employees were released. In addition to the variable employees, TMMK employs about 8,000 permanent team members.
"However, these steps simply have not been enough to respond to the current business condition and unfortunately, we will need to take an additional step and release the production and skilled variable workforce team members back to their agencies,” said Rick Hesterberg, corporate communications with Toyota Motor North America (TMNA). “They will continue to receive their benefits.”
Because of the international COVID-19 quarantine plus the economic shutdown which has resulted in thousands of jobs lost or suspended, sales of vehicles have been decreasing. TMMK has used the original shutdown to clean its plants, but the lack of demand for vehicles has forced the automaker to extend all production shutdowns.
Georgetown Mayor Tom Prather acknowledged the difficult position many businesses, including TMMK, are facing due to the shutdowns.
“We understand the difficult, but necessary decisions announced by our partners at Toyota,” Prather said. “TMMK is working hard to take care of its employees and return to production as soon as possible.
“Georgetown appreciates their efforts. We also regret the unfortunate impact of today’s announcement on some of our citizens. This announcement underscores our need to be committed to social distancing and efforts to defeat the COVID-19 virus so we can all get back to work.”
Toyota’s service parts operations and finished vehicle logistics centers will continue to operate to meet ongoing customer needs, Hesterberg said.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate action in a timely manner,” he said.
Several of Toyota’s plants in North America are working on shifting the plants' capabilities to manufacture ventilators, face masks and other personal protection equipment for health care workers. Toyota has not released which plants would be used, but a press release from TMNA identified Kentucky hospitals as receipients if the project is successful.