Automotive News Canada - October 2017 - 20
* OCTOBER 2017
Fiat Chrysler's Brampton plant won a new lease on life in last
year's contract talks with Unifor, but it faces an uncertain future.
(PHOTO: JOHN IRWIN)
Pricey real estate,
possible FCA sale,
NAFTA spell uncertainty
for the productive plant
CLOUDS OVER BRAMPTON?
By JOHN IRWIN
BRAMPTON, ONT. - FIAT
Chrysler's assembly plant here was
given a new lease on life last year
when the automaker committed to
redoing its paint shop for $325 million.
But the length of that lease on
life negotiated with auto union
Unifor is an open question. A confluence of trends makes Brampton
Assembly's long-term outlook uncertain.
Some of those trends affect the
entire Canadian auto industry: How
will North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations impact Canadian manufacturing? How will automakers adjust to
consumers' shift toward utility vehicles and trucks, and away from cars
like the ones built at Brampton?
That's not all. Fiat Chrysler
could be sold, a move that on its
own would raise questions about the
future of the Brampton plant. It also
sits on incredibly valuable land in a
Toronto suburb that has exploded in
population in recent years, making
the potential sale of that real estate
"That plant is part of a system
of a car company that is in some
degree of uncertainty overall and [is
affected by] larger uncertainty in the
Brampton Assembly made a
strong comeback following the
recession of 2008, though production volume slipped last year
to its lowest level since 2011.
*Projected total. Brampton
produced 159,940 vehicles through
August, a 1.9 per cent gain from a
year earlier. Projected total is 1.9
per cent higher than 2016.
car market," said Kristin Dziczek,
director of the Industry, Labor and
Economics group at the Center for
Automotive Research in Ann Arbor,
Mich. "Those two things don't add
up very well."
The questions linger despite
last year's labour negotiations
with Unifor, which represents
the 3,427 workers at the plant. In
those talks, FCA agreed to invest in
the plant over the life of a new fouryear labour deal. Unifor President
Jerry Dias characterized the move
as life-saving for the plant, which
was in dire need of a new paint shop.
"We are now in awfully good
shape here," Dias said. "The tooling
and everything is paid for."
EFFICIENT, PRODUCTIVE PLANT
To be sure, the plant is in no
overt danger of closing soon. The
investment guarantees its survival
through, at minimum, the next contract negotiations.
And Brampton remains one
of FCA's most efficient and productive plants. In 2015, the 2.95-millionsquare-foot (275,000-square-metre)
plant received bronze status from
FCA in implementing its World
Class Manufacturing program and
received four quality awards from
Brampton Assembly was opened
in 1986 by American Motors Corp.
It initially built the AMC Eagle
Premier luxury car and has churned
Completed Dodge Challengers and Chargers in the
final-inspection area at Fiat Chrysler's Brampton, Ont., plant.
( P H O T O : F I AT C H R Y S L E R A U T O M O B I L E S )