WINDSOR, Ont. -- Fiat Chrysler plans to eliminate the third shift at its Windsor, Ont., minivan plant on Oct. 21, three weeks later than originally planned, due to a fleet order.
FCA pushed the elimination date back from Sept. 30 “to accommodate a large order,” spokeswoman LouAnn Gosselin said in a statement. “After that date, the plant will return to a traditional two-shift operation.”
FCA informed Unifor on Tuesday that it would extend the shift’s life, Local 444 President Dave Cassidy told Automotive News Canada. He welcomed FCA’s decision, saying it buys union leadership more time to find a way to save the workers’ jobs.
“We’re looking at every single avenue to make sure that we can secure those 1,500 jobs on the third shift,” Cassidy said.
FCA in March said it would end the third shift at the Windsor plant amid sluggish North American sales for the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans it builds. The third shift’s end would put about 1,500 workers out of a job.
This year through May, Canadian sales of the Pacifica plummeted 55 per cent to 1,617 units compared with the same period a year ago, according to the Automotive News Data Center in Detroit. Grand Caravan year-over-year sales were down 28 per cent to 13,199 units.
Cassidy said he meets with FCA officials more than once per week to discuss the third shift issue. He said the union is pushing for a work-sharing program to save those jobs and is urging federal and provincial government officials to step up with assistance.
Unifor brass has been pursuing a work-sharing program since at least April, when top officials from both parties met to discuss the future of the plant. At that meeting, FCA said it is committed to spending about $350 million on the plant for “future product,” according to the union.
Cassidy said the union is refusing FCA’s request to canvass senior plant members plant for buyouts. He said the Windsor plant has been “the crown jewel” for the company for decades, and its workers deserve to keep their jobs.
“We’re telling them we’re not interested in buyout incentives; we’re interested in saving the third shift,” he said.