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A Chrysler auto worker uses an ergo-arm to load the seats into Chrysler minivans at the Windsor Assembly Plant in Windsor, Ont., in this file photo.

REBECCA COOK/Reuters

Chrysler Canada Inc. plans to add 60 unionized workers at its minivan plant in Windsor, Ont., in one of a handful of new employee hirings the company has made in recent years.

The auto maker is restricting the pool of applicants to those referred by its workers in Windsor, where the minivan plant operates on three shifts a day and employees have been working overtime on Saturday shifts.

"We're happy that they're hiring because we know they need people," said Dino Chiodo, president of local 444 of Unifor, the union that represents about 5,000 workers at the minivan plant. "If it was up to us we'd like to bring in a few more."

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Chrysler has hired about 500 people at its assembly plant and parts operations in Canada since its parent company emerged from chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009. But many of those have been because of layoffs of workers at suppliers that were performing work outsourced by the auto maker, Mr. Chiodo said.

Chrysler spokeswoman LouAnn Gosselin said the current round of hiring is necessary because of attrition.

The newly hired employees will be the second group at the minivan plant who will be subject to a cost-cutting provision the company and the union signed in 2012.

Under that deal, pay for newly hired employees starts at $20.34 an hour and their wages rise over 10 years to the full pay rate of more than $30 an hour.

They also participate in a hybrid pension plan that combines defined benefits and defined contributions, instead of the defined benefit plan that covers longer-serving workers.

Minivan production rose 15 per cent in the first six months of the year, to 182,303 from 158,459.

Year-to-date sales through the end of July in Canada and the United States rose 17 per cent to 200,262 from 170,282.

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About the Author
Auto and Steel Industry Reporter

Greg Keenan has covered the automotive and steel industries for The Globe and Mail since 1995. He also writes about broader manufacturing trends. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto and of the University of Western Ontario School of Journalism. More

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