Honda idled its North American plants on March 23, while Nissan did on March 20, both to help contain the deadly outbreak of coronavirus, initially still paying its workers. But now both companies have told their furloughed workers to apply unemployment benefits as the shutdown of factories drags on.
Honda has been paying its workers 100 percent of their wages, while Nissan paid 80 percent of wages, but now both companies say they will have to temporarily stop paying workers, making them eligible for unemployment, according to Bloomberg.
Furloughed workers at all 10 of Honda’s U.S. factories won’t receive wages from April 13 to May 1, making them eligible to get unemployment benefits from local authorities, said Teruhiko Tatebe, a Honda spokesman.
Nissan is temporarily laying off about 10,000 workers at its auto-parts and vehicle-assembly plants in Mississippi and Tennessee, and asking them to apply for state unemployment until the facilities re-open in late April, company spokesman Lloryn Love-Carter said in an email.
What’s striking here is that Honda still says that they could still resume production after May 1 at its plants, including ones in Ohio and Alabama, while Nissan is aiming for April 27 at its plants in Tennessee in Mississippi. What those dates should probably read instead is, “indefinite,” since no one can predict the future of the virus and we are still far from the apex, especially in the south, which is home to not only Nissan plants but also those belonging to BMW, Mercedes, and Volvo, among other automakers who have also idled.
Nissan and Honda’s timelines, in other words, still seem pretty optimistic, and telling your workers to apply for unemployment suggests to me that Honda and Nissan may not even believe the timelines themselves. We’re in this for the long haul, pretty clearly, as crappy as that is.
These workers should be eligible for both state unemployment and the $600 promised weekly that was included in the $2 trillion federal rescue package, but what they’ll actually get in the end depends on where they live. To take two examples, Mississippi, where Nissan employs over 5,000, offers the lowest amount in the country, or $235 per week maximum, while Ohio, where Honda has a huge presence, offers a max of $480 weekly.
None of the American employees for Nissan or Honda are unionized, while this is how Bloomberg reports pay was handled at the Big Three:
Unionized employees of General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV receive state unemployment and supplemental benefits that make up about 75% of their pay, based on collective-bargaining agreements.