Large order keeps third shift at Windsor Assembly Plant running longer

BlackburnNews.com file photo of Windsor Assembly. (Photo by Jason Viau)

The third shift at the Windsor Assembly Plant (WAP) is getting a bit of a reprieve.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) notified the Unifor Local 444 on Tuesday that its members at the plant will get an extra three weeks of work because of a new fleet order for minivans. The union has been fighting to save the third shift for months after being given notice by the automaker at the end of March that the shift was being eliminated on September 30, 2019, due to slumping sales of the Pacifica and Grand Caravan minivans. However,  the elimination deadline for the shift has since been extended to October 21, 2019 to facilitate the new fleet order.

FCA has only said it’s a large order but won’t elaborate any further.

Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy said he doesn’t know how big the fleet order is and quickly added it’s no time to plan a victory parade.

“Good news, [but] listen, any little bit that we continue to push forward is great news for us. We still have the notice, they have not removed the notice of the elimination of the third shift,” said Cassidy.

Cassidy said it buys the union a little time to try and save the shift and wants FCA to add a new product in Windsor.

“We’ve carried this company for a lot of years with this minivan and now it’s time for the company to recognize the investment they put into Windsor Assembly. They owe us a product,” he added.

Cassidy said Unifor wants to tap into the government’s innovation funding and is considering a work share program to keep all three shifts going.

“We’re looking at work share programs potentially to bridge a gap, if there is a gap to be bridged,” Cassidy said, adding that the shift elimination notice remains in place.

Eliminating the third shift will result in 1,500 job losses plus thousands more at feeder plants across Windsor.