Stellantis job seekers look to build on family legacies, seize opportunity

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Stephen Chapman has a cousin, a sister and a couple of brothers who work for Stellantis NV, the maker of Jeep SUVs and Ram pickups, and he wants to join them.

Chapman, 47, of Detroit is one of the hundreds of people signed up to come out to the transatlantic automaker's job fair on Wednesday and Thursday. Applicants are required to preregister. As the company forged by the merger earlier this year of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and French rival Groupe PSA invests $6.5 million into its Metro Detroit facilities and adds 6,500 jobs, it is looking to fill out its pipeline for production operators.

Stephen Chapman, of Detroit, sits at a computer as he applies for a job with Stellantis, Wednesday morning, Sept. 8, 2021, with the help of Stellantis safety professional Tiffany Kue.

"My whole family works for Chrysler," Chapman told The Detroit News as he filled out his application and took an assessment on math and mechanical reasoning the company requires. "It came up in my email. I knew I had to come down. I've been looking to get in for years."

It's stories like that explain why the company is holding a job fair so jobseekers can have access to a computer to apply, get their questions answered and understand the next steps, says Erica Brewster, Stellantis' head of talent acquisition for North America.

"These community days help us to provide a human touch," she said. "We hear from people that they have family members who worked for the company. There's a deep seated legacy. We want to build that up again."

Harold Golson, of Detroit, applies for a job with Stellantis, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021.

The job fair also comes after the additional $300 per week from the federal government for enhanced unemployment benefits ended this weekend, which could encourage more people to look seriously for work, some experts predict.

Harold Golson, 52, of Detroit has been on unemployment, but has been looking for work for a while after a COVID-19 pandemic-induced layoff last year.

"I saw it on the news and hear they were hiring a bunch of positions for it in my area," Golson said. "They have good pay, opportunity in the job and job security."

Entry-level production operator positions start at $15.78 per hour under the company's contract with the United Auto Workers. Employees can begin receiving medical and prescription drug coverage after 90 days. Life insurance coverage begins the first of the month after an employee is hired. Workers become eligible for holiday pay after 90 days, and have the potential to be eligible for paid or unpaid time off, too.

Job applicant Kyandrea Copland, of Warren, walks in the Q & A room after looking at the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Wednesday morning, September 8, 2021.

"It may be a job, but it's a pathway to a career," Brewster emphasized, noting the company offers leadership training and tuition assistance in some cases.

Alexandria Degraffenreid, of Southfield, applies for a job with Stellantis, Wednesday morning, Sept. 8, 2021.

Alexandria Degraffenreid, 29, of Southfield has been looking for work after recovering from an illness: "I've wanted to work for FCA forever. I hear it's well managed and a good company, and I previously have worked in factories."

The company also had some of the vehicles it makes at its local plants on display, including the new three-row Grand Cherokee L assembled at the new Mack Assembly Plant in Detroit.

"I'm looking for something new and something different," said Kyandrea Copland, 32, of Warren, who added the health insurance and other benefits are also attractive.

And for a car person like Howard Washington Woods, 23, of Detroit, it would be a dream come true: "Working for Chrysler could be the start of something. And now with a baby coming and I'm engaged, I want to find something full-time."

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble