March 29, 2019 - Extended: Lewenza on history of WAP's third shift
Third shift at FCA Windsor Assembly Plant ends
LONDON, ONT -- After 27 years the third shift at the Windsor Assembly Plant is officially shutting down, leaving roughly 1,500 people out of work.
“It’s the end of an era” exclaimed Teron D. James as he finished off his final Windsor Assembly Plant midnight shift at 7:06 a.m. Friday.
After 25 years working overnight James is switching to days with mixed feelings. He watched some of his co-workers cry last night wondering what their next move will be.
“Not even a town hall meeting to say goodbye,” James said.
Joe DiStefano took a buyout after 38 years with the company and leaves with no regrets “It’s time to give the younger generation a chance to work and move on to the next chapter of my life.”
The shutdown comes at a time when the region and nation are reeling with job losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday Statistics Canada reported that Windsor’s unemployment rate had dropped to 15.2 per cent, but remains historically high.
As the shift nears its end Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) issued the following statement Friday:
“The FCA Windsor Assembly Plant introduced the third shift 27 years ago to satisfy demand for one of the most innovative vehicles on the market. While we were able to maintain that momentum to build the world's most popular people-mover for nearly three decades, the time has come to return the plant to a traditional two shift operation as of July 13 in order to match supply with current demand. FCA will continue to demonstrate its leadership in the segment when production of the new '21 model year Chrysler Pacifica with AWD, all-new FamCAM and next generation Uconnect, as well as the Chrysler Voyager with unsurpassed value, begins in the coming months.”
The Windsor Assembly plant was the first in the automotive industry to introduce a third shift. It was created to meet customer demands for the Chrysler mini-van.
After 36 years of service, Kevin Davies said it’s like saying goodbye to a family.
“Spend more time with these guys than our actual families so it is rough” said Kevin Davies after 36 years of service,” he said.
Kim Bigelow says retiring is bittersweet but emotional as tears rolled from her eyes. She’s content leaving knowing her daughter, who also works at the assembly plant, will be fine.
“There’s a lot of young families with kids and with the housing market as high as it is it’s gonna be rough for them so I’ve been very fortunate, so it’s time to move on,” she said.
Yvette Compeau entered retirement saying working the last shift was surreal, “but I’m glad. My body needs a rest”