Honda orders office workers to Ohio assembly line

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Honda Motor Co. is requiring office employees to work the production line at its Marysville, Ohio, plant because of COVID-19-related worker shortages.

Departments with affected employees include purchasing, accounting and quality.

A Honda spokesperson told Automotive News in an emailed statement that COVID-19-related “precautions, combined with strong demand for our products, has created the need to ask some support associates to work temporarily in the production area.” The spokesperson added that Honda has taken similar measures in the past.

In a July 23 email obtained by local radio station WOSU, Honda told employees that the decision is due to “difficulty in attracting and hiring the needed amount of associates,” citing COVID-19 cases in plants and the CARES Act’s $600 unemployment benefit deterring temporary hires.

“The indirect functions will need to continue to support the product line,” the email said. “We are still trying to recover from lost build time between March and May. It is critical that we regain normal inventory levels to assure we have sufficient products for our customers.”

American Honda’s U.S. sales fell 24 percent to 592,287 vehicles during the first half of the year. The plant builds the Honda Accord and CR-V along with the Acura TLX and ILX.

An employee who asked not to be named told the radio station that while Honda at first took volunteers to work on the factory floor, lack of participation drove the automaker to make it mandatory. The plant is nonunion.

Honda shut down all of its North American plants in March because of the pandemic and resumed production May 11. Then in June, the automaker shut down production at some of its plants because of a possible cyberattack before reopening them less than a week later.

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