'Belly punch': Windsor Assembly Plant workers react to cuts
Published Friday, March 29, 2019 9:43AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, March 30, 2019 4:20PM EDT
Somber and grim were some of the words used to describe the mood on the floor at the Windsor Assembly Plant after Fiat Chrysler announced the third shift is being cut.
CTV Windsor’s Rich Garton caught up with the workers on the midnight shift as they punched out this morning.
“Like our slogan says, it's a family of one in here, and as silly as that sounds, we're a tight knit group, so we're kind of reeling right now,” says employee Scott Atkinson.
Atkinson says the lack of sales and the layoff weeks have been too consistent.
“I can imagine, it was like getting hit with a belly punch,” says Atkinson.
He says the writing was “kind of on the wall.”
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles released a statement on Thursday, saying it will halt the third shift at Windsor Assembly as of Sept. 30, 2019.
The statement said is it “in order to better align production with global demand.”
The move is expected to impact 1,500 workers.
“It's pretty grim in there,” says employee Linda Platt. “A lot of people worried a lot of families, you know, a lot of people are going to be affected by this.”
Rod Drouillard described the mood inside the plant Friday as somber.
“A lot of the low seniority not too happy, going to lose their jobs,” says Drouillard. “And it's too bad. People having families.”
Unifor Local 444 learned 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 Unifor Local 444 president David Cassidy.
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 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.
The plant, which employs over 6,000 people, underwent a $2-billion retooling in 2015 to start building the Chrysler Pacifica.
When operating at full volume, the Windsor plant produces nearly 1,500 minivans per day.
There has been a third production shift at Windsor Assembly since the early 1990’s.