For Fiat Chrysler, Minivans and Muscle Cars Might Have to Wait
Fiat Chrysler is prepared to ramp up its U.S. manufacturing presence starting May 18th, but the situation on the south side of the Detroit River is another story. That’s according to Unifor President Jerry Dias, whose union represents Detroit Three autoworkers in Canada.
Dias’ U.S. counterpart, UAW President Rory Gamble, is now on board with FCA’s restart plan after initially opposing an early return to work, but the Canadian labor official is now having a change of heart.
Last month, Dias seemed eager to get plants open ASAP, but not anymore. He told Automotive News that the automaker’s 8,500 workers remain in an uncertain amount of danger, despite plans for medical assessment tents and various indoor mitigation measures outside FCA facilities.
“The bottom line is I’m not sure if I’m there at all,” Dias told the publication in advance of FCA’s official announcement of a cross-border May 18th restart.
On the other side of the river, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer could still put the brakes on a restart; thus far, the existing stay-at-home order will run out on May 15th, though the emergency order — which does not impact manufacturing plants — has since been extended.
In Ontario, where FCA’s Windsor minivan and Brampton LX-platform car assembly plants reside, Premier Doug Ford has extended his jurisdiction’s emergency orders to May 19th. An easing in workplace shutterings began May 4th, though only for a select few types of businesses.
“I need to make sure their concerns are completely alleviated before we would give any sort of a green light,” said Dias of local union leaders. “With this date being kicked around, I’m going to have to have another conversation. The bottom line is, before I give anything the final seal of approval, I have to makes sure the local union leadership is comfortable with what transpired in the plants. Until they give me the go-ahead, I’m not there.”
It’s assumed that conversation is now underway, if not already completed. Dias mentioned that workers at the Windsor plant are scheduled to undergo coronavirus-related health and safety training on Friday.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler]
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