FCA to offer buyouts at Canada minivan plant

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles still plans to cut a shift at its minivan assembly plant in Windsor, Canada, and will begin offering hourly employees buyouts beginning Monday, the union and company said Friday.

In a pair of Facebook posts, Unifor Local 444 said the automaker still intends to eliminate the midnight shift on July 13 and that its members will have about 15 days to decide whether to accept a buyout.

“The third shift elimination of July 13 is still slated to go,” Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy said in a post made Thursday.

Unifor apparently wanted to use the third shift as a bargaining chip during the next round of contract negotiations, scheduled to begin this fall.

“We have fought through that issue, offering many different avenues, with the hopes of stalling this decision until contract negotiations where we could hash this out over a strike deadline,” Cassidy wrote. 

With FCA’s decision apparently final, executives from the union and automaker met Friday to discuss terms of the buyouts, Cassidy said in a second post.

“Executives met with the company’s (pension department) in regards to the buy-out packages,” he said in a separate post Friday. “Buy-out [sic] packages will be offered on Monday, June 1st. Eligible retiring bembers have until 8 am on June 15 to make that decision.”

In a recent interview, Cassidy said the union has been pressing the automaker for new product to replace the Dodge Grand Caravan, which will cease production Aug. 22.

FCA Canada confirmed the date and that buyouts are coming.

“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,” FCA spokeswoman LouAnn Gosselin said in an email to Automotive News Canada.

The automaker has been attempting to end production on the third shift for nearly a year, but continues to change the end date.

About 6,500 workers build the Chrysler Pacifica and Voyager and Grand Caravan in Windsor. When the third shift ends, about 1,500 will lose their jobs.

U.S. sales totaled 97,705 for the Pacifica in 2019, a 17 percent drop from the previous year. Caravan sales also fell, down 19 percent to 122,648 units.

Grace Macaluso contributed to this report.

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Saurabh Shukla

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