Unifor says FCA investing $355M in Windsor plant for future product

Unifor President Jerry Dias met with the company on Wednesday in Toronto.

Unifor met with Fiat Chrsyler Automobiles to discuss the 1,500 layoffs

FCA announced they would be eliminating the third shift as of September. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will be investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the Windsor Assembly Plant over the next 12 months for future product, according to Unifor President Jerry Dias. 

Dias met with FCA officials in Toronto Wednesday to discuss the announced 1,500 layoffs at the plant in Windsor.

Those layoffs are scheduled to take affect in September. 

"It was a much better meeting than I thought it would be," said Dias, who said there were lengthy discussions about the future of the third shift. 

But the big news was a commitment from FCA to invest $355-million in the plant over the next 12 months, an investment Dias said is for future product. 

Not optimistic about third shift

"Their terminology is 'for future product' so we'll see where that takes us," said Dias. 

A spokesperson for FCA would not comment on the meeting.

Jerry Dias says there will be more meetings with FCA to come. (CBC)

He said that the new money announced was good news but that doesn't mean the third shift is saved. 

"Am I optimistic as I sit here that we'll be saving the third shift? The answer is no, that would be premature but I can at least say that we're going to do everything we can to see if there is a way to avoid the elimination of the shift."

Meetings will continue: Dias

Dias said it's "too early to tell" if the money will help resolve the layoffs announced for the Windsor Assembly Plant, but added it shows that FCA is committed to the area. 

"I know for sure that Fiat is certainly committed to their Windsor operations," said Dias. 

He's expecting to meet again with FCA over the next couple of weeks and has also made calls to the federal government to talk about some of the aspects from Wednesday's meeting. 

Dias said one of the things brought up today was "production smoothing," an option that could keep more people employed but for shorter shifts.

"I can't make any commitments, I wish I could, that would be premature to say the least but we're at it and we have a willing partner to try to find a solution."