***Warning, video below features strong language and might not be suitable for children or in the workplace.
It’s been a hard week for the workers at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Windsor Assembly Plant (WAP). The plant is home to the production of the Dodge Grand Caravan and the Chrysler Pacifica minivans. The older Dodge Grand Caravan has been outselling its much newer Chrysler Pacifica sibling in large numbers for both the United States and Canadian markets for the past several years. It’s because of that reason that the Dodge minivan that was initially supposed to end production in 2016 is still in production.
This past week, the award-winning Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid missed out on a new Canadian government federal incentive program. The incentive program allows for a $5,000 government based incentive to be put on the hoods of clean vehicles, with a price tag higher than $45,000. The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid has a starting price of $53,990 in Canada.
After the announcement, Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy asked the Trudeau government to respond, while labor workers, local politicians, and supporters rallied outside the plant in protest to the Canadian government decision.
Fast forward a few days, Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy told the Automotive News that the plant was scheduled for a five-week shutdown later this summer to retool for the upcoming Chrysler Pacifica AWD (all-wheel-drive) minivan. Exciting news, for workers and Chrysler customers as FCA, has been looking at what they can do to boost sales of the flagship minivan.
However, a very emotional Cassidy met with the press on Thursday to announce that FCA has decided to layoff up to 1,500 employees at the WAP starting September 30th. FCA told the Unifor Local 444 its plans to cut the third shift at the plant, due to poor sales of the Chrysler Pacifica. WAP has had a third-shift in place since 1993. There have been talks about FCA offering buyouts for some workers at the plant.
The news comes a few months after the announcement that General Motors (GM) would shut down its Oshawa Assembly Plant by the end of the year, causing 2,600 layoffs.
FCA has announced a $4.5-billion (USD) investment into the Metro Detroit area, across the river from the WAP. This investment would include an additional 6,500 jobs to build new FCA product. However, the WAP layoffs aren’t the only ones FCA have been quiet about in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the company announced the layoffs of 1,371 workers at the Belvidere Assembly Plant (home of the Jeep Cherokee) by May 2nd. The company has said that those layoffs are due to slow sales of the Jeep Cherokee on the global market.
Back in 2014, FCA originally announced that the WAP would produce the future Pacifica and a Pacifica-based full-size CUV. Those plans were changed when the Dodge Grand Caravan continued to outsell the Pacifica after its launch, and the company decided to extend the life of Dodge’s fifth-generation minivan. Recent rumors have been saying that a production version of the popular 2017 Chrysler Portal Concept, might be built at WAP alongside the Pacifica in 2021.