Fiat Chrysler extends Windsor Assembly's third shift through March

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Approximately 1,500 workers on the third shift at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's Windsor Assembly Plant will have jobs through the first three months of the year, the automaker said Wednesday.

"FCA confirms that the third shift at the Windsor Assembly Plant will be extended until the end of Q1 2020," spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said in a statement. "The Company will continue to review the feasibility of maintaining the shift."

About 1,500 workers on the third shift at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Windsor Assembly Plant will have jobs through the first three months of the year.

The extension through the end of the first quarter of 2019 is the third new deadline the automaker has granted to the third shift at the plant making Chrysler and Dodge minivans. The automaker originally said in March it was eliminating the shift and laying off its employees on Sept. 30 to "better align production with global demand."

Leaders of Unifor, the labor union representing autoworkers in Canada, representing the workers at Local 444 celebrated the news in a post on Facebook.

"We are pleased to announce that we have just been notified by the company that the third shift will be extended until the end of the first quarter (March 31)," they wrote.

They added that the company will review the business case for maintaining the third shift on a month-to-month basis going forward.

"We will continue to push the company to rescind the third shift cancellation letter as they have yet to do so," the leaders wrote. "Know that we are working hard to find avenues of permanently maintaining the third shift."

It was not immediately clear why the third shift was extended. Fiat Chrysler granted an extension in June to Oct. 31 because of a fleet order, Local 444 President David Cassidy has said. The company in August said the shift would continue through the end of 2019. The plant went from two shifts to three in 1993.

Cassidy has said sales are driving decisions to trim production. Sales in the United States of the Chrysler Pacifica are down 23% through the third quarter. The Dodge Caravan's sales have declined 18% this year.

Production shut down at the plant for five weeks this summer. During that time, Cassidy said, the automaker invested the $355 million the union said in April it had committed to make into the plant as the new 2020 Chrysler Voyager minivans hit dealer lots in the United States. Updates included conveyor work on the engine line and new tooling, according to Unifor. FCA said the shutdown was to address capacity and review inventories.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble