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Windsor Woes: Stellantis Windsor labour dispute continues

Windsor, Ontario — Workers involved in a labour dispute which threatened to close the Stellantis assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario (formerly FCA) have returned to work as negotiators continue trying to resolve a contractor issue, a recent media report said.

“Former AWC Unifor workers back on the job as Stellantis and Unifor continue discussions. Regular production continues at the Windsor Assembly plant,” said Stellantis in a statement to The Detroit Bureau.

The report states a barricade had been put up by members of Canadian auto workers union Unifor which threatened to halt plant operations. The line was put in place after the company replaced a Unifor-represented contractor, Auto Warehousing, with a different company. AWC marshalled new vehicles rolling off the line for shipment and the change affected about 60 members of union branch Local 444.

The automaker and Union agreed to resume talks after a Canadian labour court declined Stellantis’ request for an order that would have forced Unifor members to remove the barricade at a gate used for employee access and shipped finished vehicles from the plant.

All employees represented by Unifor, however, have now returned to work, Dave Cassidy, Unifor Local 444 president, reportedly in a video on the branch’s Facebook page.

“It’s been gut-wrenching over the last couple of weeks,” Cassidy said. “The former AWC workers of Local 444 are back on the job as FCA and we work over the next little bit to sort out the fine details around it,” he said, noting he had spoken with senior executives as part of the effort to resolve this dispute.

Shutting down the plant is a massive issue Stellantis, which just debuted publicly Monday, after more than a year of merger talks.

The automaker has been hit with the unscheduled shutdown of the assembly plant Brampton, also in Ontario, where it builds the Dodge Challenger and Charger. That shutdown was triggered by a shortage of critical computer chips and is due to stretch to the end of January, according to statements made by company officials.

The report states that a new contractor, a firm called Motipark, does not employ Unifor members, but Local 444 maintains, under Canadian law, AWC employees have successor, rights to the jobs on the Stellantis property.

Space to store production around the plant was close to exhaustion at the sprawling Walker Road facility, according to the report.

The resumption of negotiations also followed Stellantis’ failed to appeal to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Stellantis maintained the blockade amounted to an illegal strike, but the board sided with Unifor.

Stellantis has also warned Unifor its members wouldn’t get paid if the dispute stopped production. Cassidy, however, noted no production was lost. The board’s ruling prompted round of discussions between the company and union representatives, the report added.

The Windsor plant built the Chrysler Pacifica minivan range while Brampton is home to the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Challenger.

Photo credits: Windsor Star

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