Large Fiat Chrysler Cars Suffer Production Setback as Supplier Goes on Strike

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2017 Dodge Challenger GT AWD, Image: FCA

If every full-size car built by Fiat Chrysler was a Dodge Demon, the automaker’s limited supply of seats wouldn’t be as big an issue.

Well, the Demon’s dead, and all of the Chrysler 300s, Dodge Chargers, and Dodge Challengers built at FCA’s Brampton, Ontario assembly plant need a place for five occupants to plant their asses. As of a minute after midnight on Saturday morning, those seats are no longer rolling out of supplier Lear Ajax. A production slowdown in Brampton ensues.

The 320 Lear workers voted 99 percent to strike after failing to reach a collective agreement with their employer, which they did starting April 28th. Lear is a just-in-time seating supplier for the big car plant in Brampton.

“Unifor bargained up until the deadline but unfortunately it became clear that Lear was just unwilling to make a fair offer,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias in a statement.

Unifor also represents autoworkers at all of the Detroit Three’s Canadian plants. The president of Unifor Local 222, which represents the Lear employees, said “members are united and we are determined to obtain an agreement that addresses the workers’ key issues.”

According to Automotive News, the loss of seats has had an immediate and obvious impact on car production. Ardis Snow, plant chair for Unifor Local 1285 at Brampton, said day shift workers could expect 4 hours of work on Monday. As for afternoon shift workers, “I expect they’ll be sent home early, as well,” he said.

Lear workers last walked off the job in 2014.

If you’re assuming last month saw sales of large FCA cars reach new depths, thus making this strike pointless in the grand scheme, you’d be wrong. (Though it will take some time for FCA to burn through its inventory if the strike grinds on.) Each of the LX platform rear-drive cars built at Brampton saw year-over-year sales gains in the U.S. in March. Challenger sales rose 31 percent last month, with year-to-date volume up 12 percent. The 300 saw its sales rise 25 percent, year over year, though its tally over the first three months of 2018 shows a definite downward trend. Sales are off Q1 2017 figures by 14 percent.

The Charger appears the least volatile of the three. March sales were up 3 percent, with year-to-date sales down 5 percent.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]