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Shift cut at Ford Essex Engine Plant to affect 120 jobs

A shift at the Ford Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, Ont. will be cancelled in October — a shift with approximately 120 jobs on the line. Just over 700 people work at that plant.

Spokesperson Matt Drennan-Scace with Ford Canada said all those employees on that shift will have the opportunity to move over to the Annex building at the Windsor Engine Plant.

He said by the end of 2019, it’s anticipated there will be “two engine assembly and two supporting shifts” at the Annex building for the 7.3-litre V8 engine production, which is a new program.

That engine is built for the 2020 F-Series Superduty trucks and commercial vehicles, according to Drennan-Scace.

Employees will be retrained to work in the Annex site. However, Drennan-Scace was not able to give specific numbers on how many jobs will open in that site at this time.

More engine options for customers

The Essex Engine Plant in Windsor builds the 5-litre engine for F-150 trucks. The company has introduced different engine options for that truck in recent years.

According to president of Unifor Local 200, John D’Agnolo, the third shift is being cut because of slipping sales for the engine they build.

“It’s not that they’re not selling, the sales have slowed a little bit, but there’s a lot of options for customers to buy right now,” he said.

The brand-new engine program is expected to start later in the summer, according to Drennan-Scace, and production will ramp up in November.

Difficult for younger workers

Tim Little, vice president of Unifor Local 200, doesn’t think anybody is shocked about the shift canceling given the “bit of softening” in the market.

He thinks it’s fortunate that the workers on the third shift will be able to move to the Windsor Engine Plant’s Annex site, but he’s worried about younger employees.

The hope was that the brand-new program would be able to hire some younger people. However, a lot of those jobs will now be filled by employees with more seniority from the Essex Engine Plant.

“So to get into the Windsor Ford operations have been difficult for a long, long time,” said Little.

The Annex site was dormant prior to the March 2017 investment by Ford, the federal and provincial governments, which put $600 million into the site.

“That shows Ford’s commitment to the City of Windsor and to our Windsor site operations,” said Drennan-Scace.

For Little, he hopes there will be more opportunities down the line at the Annex site.

“We got that program and then we just gotta do it well, do it right, and go after some more,” said Little.

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