DETROIT - Phil McKinnon said he had seen it all before at Ford Motor Co. - the rising gas prices and the company's ensuing attempts to adjust to a changing market.
More than 20 years ago, he saw it when oil embargoes forced his plant, Michigan Truck in suburban Wayne, to go on a one-week-on, one-week-off schedule to slow production.
And now the autoworker, 55, says he is seeing it again, with Ford announcing a five-week shutdown of the plant that makes Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators, both large sport-utility vehicles.
"I wasn't surprised, really. You could see it coming with the price of gas and the vehicles that we build," he said.
The shutdown will add three weeks to the normal two-week shutdown in July, McKinnon said. The shutdown is scheduled to begin June 23.
Ford said in March that it planned to cut North American production 10 percent in the second quarter because of slow U.S. sales, but the production cuts at Michigan Truck would come on top of that. On Thursday, the Dearborn automaker said it would cut production of trucks and SUVs through the rest of this year.
The announcement is seen as a warning shot to the rest of the U.S. auto industry, which is facing its worst sales in more than a decade.
As a skilled trades worker - he is a welder - McKinnon says he is scheduled to work through the shutdown, though that could change. Welders such as McKinnon normally work during the yearly shutdown to maintain equipment and perform other tasks they might not otherwise get to do.
Ford chief executive Alan Mulally said this week that the company was not considering dropping any trucks or large SUVs. But Ford is planning to build a smaller pickup on a modified version of the F-150 platform.
The truck would use lighter materials such as aluminum and thinner, high-strength steel and would be about the size of the Ford Ranger compact pickup. It would be built at the Michigan Truck plant.
McKinnon says he expects the plant to reopen with slowed production.
"If there's enough of a market here to warrant continued sales, they're just going to come back and slow down the line speed and keep limping along until something changes in the economy or they can get a product in here that will sell," McKinnon said.