WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will throw a spotlight on his support for organized labor Thursday when he comes to Belvidere, where United Auto Workersscored a big win with their new contract.
Afterward, he will head to Chicago for a fundraiser with mega-donors.
The Belvidere event will, the White House said, underscore the big victory the UAW negotiated with automaker Stellantis after a six-week-long strike. The deal is expected to include the reopening of the plant, which has been closed since February. Before the shutdown, the plant made the Jeep Cherokee and employed 1,350 workers, the company said.
Details on the tentative deal, Biden on the picket line
The UAW said its agreement with Stellantis calls for the company to make a nearly $5 billion investment in Belvidere, near Rockford. The plant would be revived to produce a midsize truck in 2027, while the property also would get a battery plant for electric vehicles in 2028, according to the union. It should generate at least 2,500 jobs, the UAW said.
The terms were part of an agreement reached Oct. 28 that settled the strike, part of the UAW’s “Stand Up” walkouts that hit selected facilities, including in Chicago, of the Detroit Three. The UAW’s 43,000 members at Stellantis still have to vote whether to ratify the deal.
The union also has tentative agreements with General Motors and Ford.
The Stellantis pact calls for Belvidere to get a parts “megahub.” It will come from consolidating three facilities, including one in Naperville. The employees may be able to transfer to the new location.
During the strike, Biden sided with the union and became the first sitting president to walk a picket line.
Organized labor is a major part of the Democratic Party family, and the Biden-Harris ticket will need a substantial union turnout — especially in swing states like Michigan, the auto making state.
The sprawling facility in Belvidere has been an economic engine for northern Illinois since opening in 1965. It originally was a Chrysler Corp. plant and now is run by the company’s successor, Stellantis, maker of such brands as Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram and Fiat.
“Biden will deliver remarks and meet with UAW autoworkers, UAW President Shawn Fain, and Governor J.B. Pritzker in Belvidere, Illinois to highlight his commitment to delivering for working families and creating good-paying union jobs, as well as the UAW’s historic agreement that includes bringing thousands of UAW jobs back to Belvidere and reopening a plant,” the White House said in a statement.
On Oct. 28, after the pact was announced, Biden said in a statement, “I applaud the UAW and Stellantis for coming together after hard fought, good faith negotiations to reach a historic agreement that will guarantee workers the pay, benefits, dignity and respect they deserve. This groundbreaking contract rewards the autoworkers who sacrificed so much to revive our auto industry with record raises, more paid leave, greater retirement security, and more rights and respect at work.”
Pritzker has been very involved in getting the plant reopened. “I’ve been in constant contact with auto workers, Stellantis executives, UAW representatives, and the White House as the bargaining has unfolded, and I am delighted we are now on the verge of getting this done,” Pritzker said in an Oct. 28 statement.
“I look forward to finalizing the state’s economic package and not only reopening the shuttered assembly plant in Belvidere to manufacture electric vehicles, but also co-locating a new battery production facility. This will be thousands of jobs, billions in investment, and a huge win for Illinois.”
It’s also a huge win for Pritzker, whose administration is expected to put money on the table to help bring jobs back to Belvidere. The state has a $400 million “deal closing fund” for major economic developments. Pritzker also advocated for and signed a separate incentive program for automakers transitioning to electric vehicles and battery production while retaining or creating jobs.
In September, Pritzker said $536 million in incentives helped the state get Chinese manufacturer Gotion to agree to build a battery plant in Manteno.
Pritzker was in Florida on Tuesday to tout Biden in advance of the GOP debate Wednesday night in Miami.
The top tab at the fundraiser in Chicago, to benefit Biden’s reelection campaign, is to donate or raise $200,000 to be a co-host, with the price tiers going down to $1,000 just to attend.
The donations go to the Biden Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee authorized by Biden for President, the Democratic National Committee and a variety of state Democratic parties, including the one in Illinois. The Biden Victory Fund is allowed to take contributions of up to $929,600 from an individual.
This is the second Biden fundraiser aimed at mega-donors in a matter of months. Biden headlined an event, hosted by Pritzker in Chicago on June 28.