Windsor Police are calling an explosion that happened last Thursday afternoon at the Windsor Assembly Plant (WAP) in Windsor, Ontario, Canada an “intentional act” according to a report from the Windsor Star. Authorities say an explosion took place in a vacant second-floor storage area on the west side of the facility at 5:45 p.m. Luckily, there were no injuries or fire caused by the explosion.
The Windsor Police Service responded and the plant was evacuated before 6:00 p.m. “out of an abundance of caution,” said a Stellantis spokeswoman. “The space has since been cleared and employees are expected to report to work at their regularly scheduled time,” she said in an official statement. “Our employee health and safety, as well as the safety of the community are our top priority.”
The plant remained idle for the remainder of the second shift and resume production Friday morning. The Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU), K-9 Unit, Forensic Identification Unit, and Arson Unit located the “suspicious package” that detonated and collected evidence to continue its investigation.
Over the past several months, there have been massive tensions growing between the automaker and its employees at the plant.
Stellantis announced last month, that it would cut the second shift and about 1,800 jobs in April as a result of the ongoing global semiconductor shortage. Currently, the WAP facility employees over 4,200 hourly and 185 salaries workers on two shifts to build the entire Chrysler minivan lineup (Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler Voyager, and Chrysler Grand Caravan).
In recent months, the plant has seen long periods of idle time. After being idled throughout the end of March and all of June, the plant returned to production in early July. WAP then had a scheduled summer shutdown for the weeks of August 16th and 23rd. Employees were then notified that production for the weeks of August 30th and September 6th, would continue to be shut down due to ongoing semiconductor shortages. That was extended for the weeks of September 13th and 20th.
Stellantis like many other automakers have told most of their blue-collar workforce that scheduling was being released on a week-to-week basis, due to the semiconductor crisis.
Stellantis also released an official statement last month, that the automaker would “require all employees, contractors, service provider workers, and visitors at Stellantis sites in Canada to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to entering a Stellantis facility.” The automaker stated that the policies will go into effect on Sunday, December 17th.
The Canadian labor union Unifor (which represents the autoworkers), is currently challenging the automaker’s requirement.
“It is essential to make sure when our members go to work, they feel safe and secure,” Dave Cassidy, President of Unifor Local 444 stated on Facebook on Friday. “Over the last couple of weeks, there have been some incidents going on in the plant-based on anxieties. I know we have had some hard news as of late, but any lashing out in the facilities cannot and will not be accepted and needs to stop.”
“All our livelihoods depend on the future of the plant. Trust and know that we are working through the unprecedented challenges that we are up against right now. Our priorities will always be the safety of our members and their long-term future employment. Any antics will negatively affect our reputation and our future, that is a fact.
“Let’s continue to work together to make sure we do what we do *BEST, providing a great product, and making sure we all go home safe and healthy.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Windsor Police Service – Arson Unit at 519-255-6700 ext. 4330 or ext. 4000 (after hours), Crime Stoppers anonymously at 519-258-8477 (TIPS) or online at www.catchcrooks.com