$1.5 Billion Investment by Fiat Chrysler in Windsor Is a ‘Home Run’ Says Union Leader

Strike action narrowly avoided with last minute deal that will add electric vehicle production to Windsor plant
October 15, 2020 Updated: October 15, 2020

Fiat Chrysler and Unifor have reached a tentative deal just before a midnight deadline on Oct. 14 that will keep 9,000 employees working at the company’s Windsor and Brampton plants in Ontario.

As talks entered the final phase, union members were warned that if a deal was not struck by midnight Wednesday, they should be prepared to strike.

“I am so please to announce, to our members in Windsor, and to the community in Windsor-Essex county that in this set of negotiations we were able to negotiate between $1.35 and $1.5 billion dollars that will go into our Windsor assembly plant that will stabilize that operation for the long term,”Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor union, announced Thursday morning.

Unifor had been seeking an agreement over the Thanksgiving weekend with Fiat Chrysler Automotives (FCA) to meet the economic pattern established with Ford in Oakville.

That pattern included investments to produce electric vehicles, believed to be an important segment for the future.

Dias said Unifor wanted to ensure job security for union members and for the communities in which they live. He said Fiat Chrysler has committed to maintaining the current two-vehicle platform under production that builds the Pacifica and Voyageur in Windsor.

Fiat Chrysler laid off 1500 workers there in June when it cut the third shift, which had been running since 1993.  Dias said 425 members in Windsor are still laid off.

The new investments come with the promise of second platform in Windsor, to be launched in 2024. This will build at least one vehicle that will be either a plug-in hybrid vehicle and/or a battery electric vehicle.

“So this is a huge commitment to our plant, a huge commitment to our members, and this is, I will argue a home run for the community of Windsor,” said Dias.

He said that investment will get the third shift back to work and add 2,000 jobs.

Unifor has working with the federal government, the government of Ontario and other industries to push production of electric vehicles. Dias said electric vehicle production will support the mining industry across the country, including the aluminum industries in British Columbia and Quebec, cobalt mining in Northern Ontario, and lithium mining in Quebec.

“Altogether the investment negotiated is anywhere between 1.42 billion dollars and 1.57 billion dollars so our bargaining committees are pleased,” said Dias.

These negotiations will also affect the casting plant in Etobicoke adding a recall of over 100 union members.

The deal for Windsor included benefits for Brampton also. Brampton produces the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Dodge Challenger. Unifor said $50 million will be invested in the Brampton assembly plant to extend the production of the Chrysler 300 and introduce derivatives of the Charger and Challenger.

“I hope our members in Brampton understand once again that you build the best vehicles out there and we are going to have incredible security,” said Dias.

Dias said they picked the Ford Motor Company to establish this pattern.  Unifor was able to negotiate a deal with Ford last month and is planning to start negotiations with General motors next week.

Voting on the Fiat Chrysler deal is set to begin 10 a.m. Sunday and to conclude within 24 hours, according to a Unifor news release. Unifor plans to have virtual meetings over the weekend to educate members on the deal.