Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will idle its minivan plant in Windsor, Ontario, for three weeks beginning Sept. 28, just as contract talks between the automaker and Unifor are set to kick into high gear.
The shutdown comes after FCA scheduled production on each of the last two Saturdays.
“The Windsor Assembly Plant is planning to adjust its upcoming production schedule to better align with market demand,” FCA Canada spokeswoman LouAnn Gosselin said in a statement. “This includes scheduling down time from Sept. 28 through Oct. 16.
“Normal shift schedules are expected to resume the week of Oct. 19.
“As always, production schedules are subject to change.”
The decision was made Monday, a day before Unifor reached a tentative three-year collective bargaining agreement with Ford Motor Co. and said FCA would be the next automaker it negotiates with.
When asked specifically, FCA Canada didn’t say whether the decision was tied in any way to ongoing contract talks. Unifor is seeking another product for the plant so that a third shift of employees that was laid off earlier this year can eventually return to work.
“I’m not concerned about it. It actually favors us,” Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy said.
He said FCA won’t be able to stockpile minivans in advance of a strike.
“We aren’t going to have a deal in place by the end of the shutdown, anyway,” he said.
The plant builds the Chrysler Pacifica, Voyager and Grand Caravan minivans for the global market.
Canadian Pacifica sales were down 52 percent to 1,065 in the first half of the year while Grand Caravan sales fell 23 per cent to 15,943.
In the United States, first-half Pacifica sales were down 27 percent to 35,594 while Grand Caravan sales decreased 58 percent to 30,222.