Unifor leaders are in shock after Fiat Chrysler announced they are cutting the third shift at Windsor Assembly Plant this fall.

Unifor president Jerry Dias told CTV News Channel Friday that the union knew that sales were “softening,” but the move by Chrysler was a surprise.

“This is pretty drastic,” he said, adding that conversations with Chrysler had been positive even up until last week. “There was no indication that they were going to do something this dramatic.”

The company had “always talked about” adding another vehicle to the production line at the Windsor plant to deal with declining sales, he said. In 2015, the plant underwent $2-billion in upgrades to start building the Chrysler Pacifica. The upgrades installed give the plant “a lot of options” for what it can produce beyond the minivans, said Dias.

The move is likely to affect more than the 1,500 jobs in Windsor, he said, noting that a number of “feeder plants” will be impacted too. “Every one job in the auto industry is about eight or nine spin-off jobs,” he said. “This is going to have a dramatic impact on the Windsor economy. Not just the Windsor economy, but the Ontario economy.”

Unifor Local 444 president David Cassidy says they are going to do everything they can to protect the workers.

“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,” says Cassidy.

Windsor Assembly employs more than 6,000 workers. There has been a third production shift at the Windsor Assembly Plant since the early 1990’s.

With files from CTVNews.ca.