Stellantis to cut 1,800-person second shift at Windsor Chrysler minivan plant

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Stellantis NV on Friday said it will cut about 1,800 jobs at Windsor Assembly Plant, home of the Chrysler minivans, when it goes to one shift from two starting in the spring because of the global microchip shortage and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stellantis NV said Friday.

The Ontario plant employs 4,213 hourly and 185 salaried employees after its third shift was cut last year. Despite the workforce reduction, Stellantis reaffirmed its commitment to invest $1.13 billion into Windsor by 2024 for a new platform supporting plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles as a part of last year's contract with Canadian autoworkers union Unifor.

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle Hybrid.

In a post on Facebook, Unifor Local 444 said it was informed late Friday afternoon that the change would be effective April 17 and that discussions would be happening over the weekend: "We will be meeting with the company in the coming days to explore ALL other options; however official notice has been given."

The local also noted the company reiterated plans to return the plant to three shifts in the future. Upon announcing the 2020 agreement, Unifor President Jerry Dias said the Windsor workforce was expected to grow from two shifts by more than 2,000 starting in 2023 with a 38-week ramp-up of the new platform.

The shift reduction is the second Stellantis plant to go to one shift after the Jeep Cherokee plant in Belvidere, Illinois, in July as the industry faces a scarcity of parts resulting from effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and strong demand for vehicles. Despite the shortages, Stellantis booked a more than $7 billion profit in the first half of the year.

"The global automotive industry continues to face significant headwinds such as the persisting semiconductor shortage and the extended effects of the COVID-19 pandemic," the company said in a statement. "In response to these factors, Stellantis will adjust production operations at its Windsor Assembly Plant (WAP) in Canada."

Analysts identified Windsor as a vulnerable plant given the declining demand over years for minivans in favor of SUVs. For most of the year, Windsor has sat idled due to the semiconductor shortage. With 107 days lost of production, it has missed out on more than 107,000 produced vehicles, according to estimates from AutoForecast Solutions LLC. Stellantis sold less than 60,000 Pacificas and Voyagers in the first nine months of the year, down 7% year-over-year.

Windsor will run next week. The only Stellantis plant in North America slated to idle is Belvidere Assembly, which is down through the rest of the month.

The second shift cut at Windsor follows the elimination of 1,500 jobs last summer when the company ended production of the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan. The company, then known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, replaced its with the Chrysler Voyager, whose lineup consists of the former bottom three trims of the Chrysler Pacifica.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble