Stellantis warns Unifor blockade could halt operations at Windsor factory

Stellantis is warning that if production at its Windsor Assembly Plant is affected by a Unifor blockade, workers won't get paid for any time the factory is shut down.

Auto company says workers won't get paid for any time plant is shut down

Unifor members block the Vimy Ave. gate to the Windsor Assembly plant on Jan. 5, 2020. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Stellantis is warning that a union blockade at its Windsor Assembly Plant will soon lead to a shutdown of operations.

"It is unfortunate Unifor is choosing to use this inappropriate tactic of blockading our property, even though Stellantis is not involved in the dispute, and knowing that its effect will soon result in our Windsor operations being shut down," LouAnn Gosselin, spokesperson for Stellantis, said in a news release Monday.

The auto company, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler, says workers won't get paid for any time the factory is shut down.

In a letter posted to Facebook, Unifor Local 444 said it will "grieve this, up to [and] including arbitration, as none of our FCA members have taken part in the most recent picket and no gate of the WAP, where our FCA members enter and exit, has been picketed." 

The union said it has only prevented third party workers from entering and doing the work their members should be doing. 

But Stellantis said in a statement that "it is imperative that Unifor's actions cease immediately so that our Windsor employees, suppliers and operations are not negatively impacted." 

Unifor Local 444 set up a blockade at an entrance to the plant earlier this month, arising from a dispute involving a contractor at the facility, Motipark. 

The union wants workers from the contractor Auto Warehousing Company (AWC), a group that Unifor represents, to be rehired.

The workers in question were responsible for driving the newly built minivans away from the factory ahead of shipment.

The contract for the service was taken over by Motipark, a subsidiary of the Essex Terminal Railway Company, on Jan. 1, after a bidding process last year, putting the Unifor members out of work.

The Motipark workers are represented by the Teamsters union, but Unifor has argued it should have had succession rights.

Unifor has filed an application under the Ontario Labour Relations Act.

FCA had agreed to let AWC workers return to work temporarily until the dispute was settled at the labour board, but last Friday, FCA sent workers home. 

Gosselin said Friday that FCA was notified by AWC management that Thursday would be its last day, and that AWC "confirmed that they did not instruct their employees to report to work [Friday] morning." 

Unifor Local 444's secretary-treasurer, James Stewart, told CBC News Friday that they will continue with the blockade "until we get it resolved." 

CBC News has reached out to Unifor, but has yet to hear back. 


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