1,500 employees impacted as FCA eliminates third shift at Windsor Assembly
Published Friday, March 29, 2019 6:06AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 29, 2019 6:21AM EDT
Officials with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles say they will halt the third shift at Windsor Assembly as of September 30, 2019.
A statement from the company issued Thursday says it’s “in order to better align production with global demand.”
The move will affect 1,500 workers who will be offered retirement packages.
FCA says it informed Unifor Local 444 of the move to two shifts around 2 p.m. on Thursday.
“Direct families depend on us and we're going to do everything possible to make sure that we maintain three shifts at Windsor Assembly Plant,” said David Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444, at a brief news conference in response to the move by FCA.
When Cassidy was asked about efforts spearheaded by Windsor mayor, Drew Dilkens, to diversify the city’s economy, the response was curt.
“F--- Drew. Seriously,” exclaimed Cassidy.
“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. This is devastating for the city of Windsor and I hope that Drew Dilkens might reach out to me,” said Cassidy.
The mayor is shrugging off the outburst.
“Let's just put this aside because it's sheer nonsense,” said Dilkens, speaking to CTV Windsor. “I mean he blamed me for the casino strike when they put two failed agreements in front of their employees, somehow that was the mayor's fault and now that people aren't buying the Pacifica and the minivan, there's a supply and demand imbalance, somehow that's the mayor of Windsor's fault. It's crazy thinking.”
The announcement follows months of slumping sales of the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan, both built at Windsor Assembly.
Sales of the Pacifica this year are down 54 per cent in Canada through February and 24 per cent in the U.S. Sales of the Grand Caravan are down more than 20 per cent in both countries over the same period.
Premier Doug Ford issued a statement following the announcement on Thursday.
"In the face of this extremely disappointing announcement from Fiat Chrysler, our government will not waver in our support for the thousands of men and women that go to work in Ontario's auto sector every day,” says Ford. “I want the employees at the Windsor Assembly Plant to know that my government stands with you and your families. We will fight tooth and nail to protect the jobs of the auto workers in Windsor.”
Dilkens added the premier called him on Thursday evening to stress his support.
“We had a great conversation just a few minutes ago with the premier. He indicated strong support for Windsor,” said Dilkens. “Whatever we need, he'll be there to support.”
Unifor National President Jerry Dias is also watching the situation closely, issuing a statement on Twitter.
“I am deeply concerned about the 1,500 plus families, the community of Windsor & the [Canadian] auto industry -- all affected by FCA Canada's decision to end the [third] shift at Windsor Assembly Plant.”
FCA Canada spokesperson, Lou Ann Gosselin says “every effort” will be made to help laid off workers.
“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,” said Gosselin in a statement.
The plant underwent a two billion dollar retooling in 2015 to start building the Chrysler Pacifica.
Windsor Assembly employs more than 6,000 workers.
When operating at full volume, the Windsor plant produces nearly 1,500 minivans per day.
There has been a third production shift at the Windsor Assembly Plant since the early 1990’s.