Fiat Chrysler is ending the third shift at their Canadian assembly plant and laying off 1,500 workers.
Windsor Ontario is known for being the Canadian city closest to America. It borders the Detroit River and serves as the jumping-off point between Michigan and Ontario. It’s also home to one of Fiat Chrysler’s assembly plants making both the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans.
Unfortunately, after years of strong sales in the minivan market, the Pacifica and Grand Caravan are having a tough 2019. Sales are down 24% in the first two months of 2019 for the Pacifica, while the Grand Caravan has seen sales drop 27% for the first two months. Total Pacifica sales are down to 14,817, and Caravan sales down to 19,634.
Initially, it was thought that a scheduled shutdown period would be enough to get production back in line with fallen demand, but Fiat Chrysler has announced that, unfortunately, they see no way of continuing minivan production at current levels. There just aren’t enough people buying minivans these days, and so, Windsor’s third shift would be terminated beginning September 30th.
This would amount to 1,500 employees losing their jobs.
Speaking at a press conference late last week, Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy said he would fight to keep the third shift operating at Windsor. "People's lives — 1,500 direct families — depend on us," he said. "We're going to do everything possible to make sure we maintain three shifts. Everyone knows our product in Windsor is No. 1, and if you want to build it right, you want to build it in Windsor."
For their part, FCA said they’d offer retirement packages wherever possible, and relocate laid-off workers to other plants in the area.
It’s currently a tough time to be a Canadian autoworker. GM announced last year that the Oshawa Ontario plant would be closed entirely following the end of Chevy Impala and Cadillac XTS production.
Meanwhile in Detroit, FCA recently announced a $4.5 billion investment to expand production and create a brand new factory to make their next generation of Jeep Grand Cherokee and a yet unnamed 3-row Jeep SUV. The move is expected to generate 6,500 jobs for the region.
(Source: The Detroit Free Press)