Saturday, 26 May 2018
Car News

Parts shortage to idle FCA's Canada minivan plant, union says

An all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica comes off the final production line at FCA’s Windsor, Ontario, assembly plant. A parts shortage is prompting FCA to idle output at the factory starting Monday.

UPDATED: 11/4/16 12:25 am ET – adds details

Fiat Chrysler will idle its minivan assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, beginning Monday, union officials there said, because of a parts shortage.

An FCA spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment late Thursday on the report, and union officials could not identify the component or supplier behind the shortage.

It’s unclear whether the suspension of minivan output is related to a large fire earlier this week that destroyed a Magneti Marelli warehouse in Tennessee.

Magneti Marelli, a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is a major lighting component supplier to FCA and other automakers.

“FCA told us that they are going to give us a formal letter indicating that we are down but I haven’t seen it, yet,” Unifor Local 444 president Dino Chiodo told Automotive News Canada, just minutes after speaking with company management late Thursday. “There is a posting in the plant already that suggests that, potentially, all next week we’ll be down.”

FCA’s Windsor assembly plant runs three shifts per day, building about 1,500 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

About 6,000 employees at Windsor Assembly will be affected by the downtime.

“They’re trying to get everything in place and trying to determine if this is going to be the whole week or just a couple of days,” Chiodo said.

Workers are already scheduled to have Friday, Nov. 11, off to observe Remembrance Day in Canada.

Chiodo said FCA told the union the shutdown is due to a parts supply matter.

“Windsor Assembly Plant basically will not be operating next week because of some supplier issues that have occurred over the last few days,” Chiodo said. “Because of that, they will be forced to shut down their operations to try and figure out how to get everything back into place and back into operation again.”

Magneti-Marelli’s plant and warehouse in Pulaski, Tenn., supplies lighting for the Pacifica. A large blaze Tuesday destroyed the supplier’s main warehouse there used to store auto parts and shipping boxes, according to local media. The building is considered a total loss after the roof collapsed.

FCA’s minivan plant was already at risk of being idled if Unifor and Integram (Magna) Seating couldn’t come to an agreement on a new labor agreement late Thursday.

The union was set to strike at the company that makes seats and “foam buns” for the minivans. But bargaining continued past Thursday’s strike deadline, Unifor Local 444 spokesman Gord Gray said early Friday.

Now, a strike seems less likely because the union has lost that bargaining chip in the 11th hour.

“The reality is that if the [FCA] facility is shut down next week it would be complicated for us to think that we would accomplish anything by going on strike,” Chioda said. “It really doesn’t have any weight. At the same time, we don’t want to go on strike, we want to come to a resolution.”

Larry P. Vellequette contributed to this report.

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