Metro Ford, GM assembly plants struggling due to chip shortage

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two metro auto assembly plants are struggling with shortages. Thousands are waiting for work to pick up, and it’s all because of a little chip. 

Semiconductor chips are in most new cars you buy off the lot. It works as the brain to your vehicle by sending signals throughout the car with directions. 

Clarence Brown, president of UAW Local 31, said he hopes the shortage we’re seeing is a push to get them made right here in the United States. 

“This chip is dictating our livelihood,” Brown said.

Thousands on both sides of the state line have gone without work for months due to the lack of chips coming from China because of the pandemic. 

The van transit line for Claycomo’s Ford plant shut down one day last week but is now back to work. However, according to Brown, most of the Fairfax GM plant in KCK is still waiting for unemployment. He said the problem is out of control.

“It’s affecting the lives of people not just here in Kansas City or in this plant, but throughout this country, and it’s a chip,” Brown said.

FOX4 spoke with Jonté Gold who works at the Fairfax plant back in February. He’s still out of work and still waiting for his full unemployment from the Kansas Department of Labor.

“It’s not just me. There’s roughly 3,000 people at the Fairfax General Motors assembly plant, UAW 31 and I would say those people are in the same boat that I am,” Gold said.

In February, President Joe Biden signed an executive order looking to solve the chip issue. It included a 100-day review for supply chains of chips and other vital resources. 

“Only 14% of those chips are made in the United States. They’re made somewhere else. I don’t try to tell General Motors how to do their business, and I’m not going to tell anyone else how to do their business. But the first question that comes to my mind is, why don’t we make these in the United States?” Brown said.

A representative for the Ford plant could not say if there would be future shutdowns of the plant because of a shortage because the situation is “too fluid.”

GM did not respond to our request for comment at this time.

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