'I don't know what I'm going to do': FCA employees at a loss for how to move on

Even if they aren't on the midnight shift, some employees at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are at a loss for what happens next.

One employee says that once the third shift is cut, it may be hard to get it back

About 1,500 employees will be losing their job due to the cancellation of the third shift at Windsor Assembly Plant, effective Sept. 30. (Colin Cote-Paulette/Radio-Canada)

Two Windsor sisters can expect to lose their job at Windsor Assembly Plant on Sept. 30, 2019 — when Fiat Chrysler Automotive terminates the third shift at the plant.

They are two of roughly 1,500 jobs that will be lost as a result.

Brenda and Holly Lucier both work on the assembly line.

"I was devastated," said Brenda — her sister Holly is the one who called to give her the news.

"Everything I worked for ... ripped [away] in that five-minute call. I didn't know what I was going to do."

Brenda Lucier, centre, and Holly Lucier talk about what it was like finding out they might lose their job in September. 2:29

Holly thought it was a joke — and then she knew it was a nightmare.

"I've only been there a year," said Holly. "I've only been there a year. I don't know what to think."

She had left a previous role to go work at WAP, after she bettered herself, she said.

Holly bought a new car just a few weeks ago. When she called the dealership Friday morning to see if she could give it back, she wasn't their first call that morning.

Holly said it's not just them — it's all the feeder plants too. She said eliminating a whole shift has huge repercussions. 

WATCH Rod Drouillard say it's been a shock:

Rod Drouillard has worked on the midnight shift for a long time. What happens next for him? 0:24

Rod Drouillard has been on steady midnights for 30 years. He's probably headed to the swing shift now.

"I feel bad for the low seniority guys," said Drouillard. "I'll still have a job at the end of the day. It's tough for the economy in Windsor."

Drouillard said the floor was quiet on his shift Thursday night.

"But you can't lose sleep over something you can't control," said Drouillard. "It is what it is. It's a business decision, they're in it to make money."

WATCH Dino Gatto says he'll be okay, but the new hires are at a risk:

Day shift employee Dino Gatto says the shift cancellation will affect those who haven't been with FCA very long. 0:21

Dino Gatto on the day shift said as a plant, they're in shock.

"It's a big blow," said Gatto. "We've been running the third shift since 1993. It's been a great opportunity."

Gatto said it's the 2,000 people who were hired in the last few years who will hurt the most — he's been on the line for 23 years, so he'll be okay ... for now.

"Is it going to stabilize? Is it going to continue to get worse? Time will tell," he said. 

Hope may come with a new product

According to Drouillard, the company just can't sustain three shifts, five days a week.

How did the third shift get here? 0:40

The plant will be shutdown during the summer for retooling. Gatto said he's heard it may be for an all-wheel platform product.

Even though some people are still hopeful another product will come in, Drouillard said "once we go down to two shifts it may be hard to get it back."

Gatto said some of the employees saw it coming, looking at the shutdowns over the last year. 

"There's still some hope," said Gatto.

"We're really uncertain what the future holds, even tomorrow. If there are some layoffs, maybe they'll get called back within the year. We don't know."


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