'Brutal way to do business' says Unifor president on Stellantis assembly plant cuts

·2 min read
Unifor national president Jerry Dias gestures during a press conference announcing a tentative agreement for 9,000 members working at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, averting a midnight strike at its Canadian plants,  in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020.  (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Unifor national president Jerry Dias gestures during a press conference announcing a tentative agreement for 9,000 members working at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, averting a midnight strike at its Canadian plants, in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Unifor's national president Jerry Dias says there was no consultation whatsoever with the union prior to Stellantis's announcement Friday that it would be cutting the Windsor Assembly Plant down to one shift and he is vowing to get answers from the company this week.

"That's a brutal way to do business," Dias told the CBC. "You'd think that well in advance of this type of announcement, there would have been some consultation, some discussion... to see if there was a mechanism to avoid this — but nothing."

Late Friday afternoon, Stellantis announced that in response to "significant headwinds such as the persisting semiconductor shortage and the extended effects of the COVID-19 pandemic," it would be transitioning the Windsor Assembly Plant to a one-shift operation by spring of 2022, a change that would see 1,800 employees lose their jobs permanently.

Last year, Dias celebrated the collective agreement the union reached with the company which included a $1.5-billion dollar investment in the Windsor Assembly Plant that would see the inclusion of electric vehicles at the Windsor plant along with the return of the third shift, which was cut in early 2020.

Dias said this news came as a surprise.

"[It was] absolute radio silence until you get the call at the last minute saying 'here's what we're announcing,'" he said.

Dias said that the union is reaching out to Stellantis to set up meetings to see how to deal with the announcement.

"We understand that the semiconductor chip shortages is causing a global nightmare in the auto industry, but nonetheless we need to have a good discussion as to where they're allocating the chips and why," he said.

Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy was not responding to calls from the media over the weekend but, online, he vowed that he'd be working on the issue this week.

"I know you are angry, I am angry!" Cassidy wrote on the union's Facebook wall.

"We get into this Monday."

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