Stellantis extends second shift at Chrysler Pacifica plant in Windsor

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

The maker of the Chrysler Pacifica has extended second-shift production of the minivan at its Windsor Assembly Plant in Ontario.

Stellantis NV confirmed Friday it has extended the employment of about 1,800 workers through the second quarter at the end of June. It previously had said in October the indefinite layoffs at the plant that employs 4,262 people would begin April 17.

Windsor Assembly Plant produces the Chrysler Pacifica and Voyager minivans.

The shift cut is a product of the ongoing global semiconductor shortage hampering production. Stellantis' Jeep Cherokee plant in Belvidere, Illinois, also lost its second shift last year.

But the Pacifica was a bright spot for Stellantis' fourth-quarter U.S. sales with a 32% increase year-over-year compared to an 18% decline for the automaker overall.

“The facts of the matter are we need the vehicles,” said Dave Cassidy, president of Canadian autoworkers union Unifor Local 444, which represents workers at the plant. “It’s a great vehicle. Dealers are crying for it. People want it.”

Despite plans for the layoff, Stellantis has said it will uphold commitments from its 2020 contract with Unifor. That includes a $1.13 billion investment into Windsor by 2024 for a new platform that supports electrified vehicles, which Unifor said should return the plant to three shifts after the Dodge Grand Caravan was discontinued in 2020.

During Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares' first visit to the company's Canadian plants earlier this month, Cassidy said he emphasized the company's commitments.

“He was tough on us on some of the things he wanted to see from us," Cassidy said. "We are working on those as we speak. When you talk to any CEO of any company, they want to always improve productivity and improve products. There was nothing that was earth-shattering."

Cassidy added: "He liked the workforce in Canada. He’s committed to Canada.”

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble