Fiat Chrysler plans to invest between $1 billion and $1.1 billion to begin building electrified vehicles at its Windsor, Ont., assembly plant in 2024, according to Unifor President Jerry Dias.
Dias, speaking Thursday morning at a news conference outlining the details of a tentative three-year contract reached later Wednesday with FCA, said the automaker plans to build battery-electric vehicles “and/or” plug-in hybrids at the plant. The investment will result in about 2,000 workers being hired. That number includes the approximately 1,500 currently laid off there.
The investment appears to meet a top priority for the union in negotiations. Unifor was seeking a new product for the Windsor plant following the elimination of the third shift and about 1,500 jobs earlier this year amid slumping minivan segment sales. The Windsor plant currently builds the Chrysler Pacifica and Voyager minivans, as well as the Grand Caravan for the Canadian market.
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“It was critical for us to stabilize the footprint in Windsor,” Dias said.
The automaker would only say it has reached a tentative agreement with Unifor and that further details will be provided at a later date. FCA had no additional comment on Thursday after Dias released the terms.
The contract must be ratified by workers to take effect. A ratification vote was expected to begin Sunday morning, with results known by Monday. The agreement also covers fire and security workers at the Windsor plant and about 60 office and clerical workers, according to the union. Unifor represents about 8,400 FCA workers, according to the automaker.
Dias said FCA would put up the “lion’s share” of the funding for Windsor, but said the company was actively engaged with the federal and provincial governments for support. It was not clear how much funding was being discussed.
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FCA’s investment plans follow those by Ford Motor Co. for its Oakville, Ont., assembly plant. The automaker plans to invest $1.8 billion, including $590 million in government support, in the Oakville factory to begin building electric vehicles by 2026.
FCA also plans to begin building three derivatives of the cars it builds at the Brampton, Ont., assembly plant, over the course of the contract. The factory builds the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger. Dias called the trio of derivatives “top hats” for the nameplates.
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The Brampton plant has long been the subject of speculation about its future. The Charger and Challenger are believed to be highly profitable for FCA, but they are built on aging platforms, raising questions about the long-term prospects of the plant. Dias said he’s confident the jobs are secured for the duration of the three-year deal.
The FCA contract also includes new products for the automaker’s casting plant in Toronto, resulting in about 100 additional jobs, according to Dias.
Dias said the FCA contract follows the pattern set by the Ford contract, with a “significant” signing bonus for workers and a reduction in the wage grow-in period for new hires to eight years. He did not offer further details, which are expected to be made known to Unifor members at a Sunday ratification meeting.
As late as Wednesday, Unifor was signaling that it and FCA were far apart in negotiations, in large part due to pattern bargaining. Dias told Automotive News Canada on Wednesday morning that the union had “major issues” with FCA not committing to the pattern set by the Ford contract.
Should workers ratify the tentative contract with FCA, Unifor would begin negotiations with General Motors. The GM contract covers workers at an engine and transmission plant in St. Catharines, Ont., as well as the company’s new aftermarket parts operation at its former assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont. GM’s CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ont., is on a separate contract that expires in 2021.
Notizia importante per i dipendenti canadesi di FCA: la fabbrica di Windsor produrrà un veicolo elettrico a partire dal 2024, probabilmente la prossima Pacifica sarà elettrica. Per Brampton ( Challenger, Charger e 300 C ) non è ancora al sicuro.