1,500 jobs impacted as FCA cuts shift at Windsor, Ont. plant
Published Thursday, March 28, 2019 5:39PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 28, 2019 9:58PM EDT
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Canada is eliminating a third shift at its automotive plant in Windsor, Ont., impacting 1,500 jobs.
The company said it’s cutting back to two shifts at the plant starting on Sept. 30.
“The Company will make every effort to place indefinitely laid off hourly employees in open full-time positions as they become available based on seniority,” Fiat Chrysler said in a statement.
The plant, which produces the Chrysler Pacifica, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and the Dodge Grand Caravan, employs 6,104 workers, according to the FCA website.
The plant began making minivans in 1983 and switched to working in three shifts 10 years later.
Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy told reporters on Thursday the move back to two shifts is “devastating for everybody.”
“We are going to keep pressure on FCA on product and fully utilize our facility. We’ve notified the company that we want to meet immediately with Mike Manley, the CEO of FCA,” he said.
“We are going to do everything possible to make sure that we maintain three shifts at (the) Windsor Assembly Plant.”
Unifor national president Jerry Dias echoed Cassidy’s shock for FCA’s decision to scale back to two shifts.
“I am deeply concerned about the 1,500 plus families, the community of Windsor (and) the (Canadian) auto industry,” Dias wrote in a tweet. “(Unifor) has demanded an urgent meeting with (FCA) to address.”
When asked about Mayor Drew Dilkens’ prior comments on the need to diversify the region’s economy, Cassidy gave an emotional critique of the mayor and his perceived lack of communication with the union.
“F--- Drew. Seriously.” he said. “I have reached out to Drew Dilkens so many times. I have tried to bridge a gap there. The election is over. Drew Dilkens can’t take his finger off. We have two crown jewels in this city right tied to this local, Windsor Assembly Plant and Casino Windsor. Drew Dilkens needs to pay attention to this."
Dilkens did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a statement that the provincial government “will not waver in our support” for auto sector workers.
“I want the employees at the Windsor Assembly Plant to know that my government stands with you and your families,” Ford said in the statement. “We will fight tooth and nail to protect the jobs of the auto workers in Windsor.”
Ford said he plans to meet with FCA Canada president Reid Bigland and Unifor president Jerry Dias to discuss ways to protect jobs at the plant.
“We remain steadfast in our support for Ontario’s auto manufacturing sector, but more importantly we remain steadfast in our support for the autoworkers both in Windsor and province-wide,” he said.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the provincial government to “step up” to keep Ontario’s auto sector strong.
“We can be a world-leader in manufacturing the cars of the future for generations to come, but it won’t happen by accident,” she said in the statement. “Tens of thousands of Ontario jobs in auto, auto parts and spinoff industries, are at risk if the province fails to take action.”
Earlier this week, FCA announced it was shuttering the Windsor plant -- and another one in Brampton -- for weeks in April amid softening sales.
Cassidy said when the two-week shutdown was announced, there was no indication this news was coming.
On Feb. 26, FCA announced plans to invest US$4.5 billion to build a new assembly plant in Michigan and renovate four others in the state, while creating 6,500 jobs in the process.