Stellantis will transform its Windsor, Ont., minivan plant into a one-shift operation beginning in the spring of 2022, the automaker announced late Friday.
The company didn’t say precisely when one of the two remaining shifts will be slashed, but it did blame the ongoing semiconductor shortage and COVID-19 pandemic for the change.
Unifor Local 444, which represents workers at the factory said in a Facebook post the change takes place April 17, 2022.
Aside from some shifts run in late May and early June, the Windsor Assembly Plant was down from March 29 to July 5, due to the global microchip shortage. It was then down again from Aug. 16 through Sept. 26, but had been running consistently this fall.
About 4,500 people, the majority of them Unifor members, build the Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, Chrysler Grand Caravan in Canada and Chrysler Voyager for the U.S. market.
The cut will affect 1,800 jobs, the company to Automotive News Canada.
“In response to these factors, Stellantis will adjust production operations at its Windsor Assembly Plant (WAP) in Canada,” the company said. “Beginning in the spring of 2022, WAP will transition to a one-shift operation."
Neither Unifor National President Jerry Dias nor Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy, who represents workers at the plant, were available for comment.
“The company reaffirms its WAP investment commitment outlined in the 2020 Collective Agreement of up to $1.5 billion," Stellantis said in a statement.
Fiat Chrysler, before it merged with PSA Group, pledged during 2020 contract negotiations with Unifor to invest between $1.35 billion and $1.5 billion to begin building electrified vehicles at the Windsor, Ont., assembly plant.
At the time of the deal, Dias said he expected there to be further layoffs at Windsor Assembly between now and 2023, given the shrinking minivan segment.
Dias told Automotive News Canada just after the collective agreement was struck that work at the plant would begin in 2023 with a 38-week ramp-up, according to Dias, with the first production vehicles rolling off the line in 2024.
Unifor Local 444 posted a statement on the chapter's official Facebook page.
"We will be meeting with the company in the coming days to explore ALL other options; however official notice has been given," the post read. "The company reiterated their commitment to their bargained investment and the three-shift operation in the future.
"We will be getting more specifics over the course of the weekend and the upcoming days."
Canadian Pacifica sales are up 113 per cent to 3,924 through the first nine months of 2021. The automaker has sold 2,425 Chrysler Grand Caravans in Canada this year. The automaker last year eliminated the Dodge Caravan and moved it into the Chrysler product line.
As recently as 2019, the plant was a three-shift operation.