The decline in the sales of minivans is prompting Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. to cut 1,500 jobs at a Canadian assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, across the river from Detroit by the end of June.
The move will trim production at the plant from three shifts to two, starting June 29, FCA said.
FCA said it notified Unifor, the union representing Canadian auto workers, of the decision as attempts to balance the plants daily production with the drop in demand for minivans now built in Windsor.
“This decision comes as the company works to align volumes with demand while phasing out production of the Dodge Grand Caravan at the end of May. The company will make every effort to place indefinitely laid-off hourly employees in open full-time positions as they become available based on seniority and will offer retirement packages to eligible employees,” FCA said in a statement.
The union, in a news release, predicted that the shift reduction would lead to “significant job loss in the parts supply chain, much of which is located on the other side of Detroit River in the United States, while also and the local economy in Ontario and the Canadian national economy.
“Unifor is very disappointed that FCA was unable to find a solution that would have avoided job losses,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said in the release.
“There is no question that the economic ramifications will be felt across the region and throughout country,” he said.
David Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444, which represents workers at the Windsor plant, said in a statement, “We worked to prevent this shift loss with the full understanding of the devastating affect that this would have on our membership.
“Now we will ensure that these workers receive the support that they need in this process as we continue to fight for new product for Windsor Assembly with the goal of preserving and increasing these good paying auto manufacturing jobs,” Cassidy said.
The 4.4 million-square-foot plant currently employs 5,610 and 234 salaried workers on three shifts, according to FCA.
Earlier this month, FCA unveiled a new version of the Chrysler Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid that will appear later this year to shore up FCA’s minivan sales, which have declined due to popularity of sport utility vehicles.
Tim Kuniskis, head of FCA’s global passenger cars in North America, who is in charge of the minivan business, said upgrading the Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid will shore up minivan sales. The Dodge Grand Caravan, which is based on the previous generation of the minivan, is now scheduled to disappear.