BELVIDERE, Ill. (WLS) — There was sigh of relief for auto workers across the country and in Illinois on Saturday.
The iconic Assembly Plant in Belvidere, described as the beating heart of the community, will now reopen and welcome its employees back after the United Auto Workers union and Stellantis have reached a tentative deal.
Tens of thousands of workers at Jeep-maker Stellantis will soon be returning to work.
“Once again, we’ve achieved what just weeks ago, we were told was impossible,” said UAW President Shawn Fain.
The development comes just days after the union and Ford reached a similar deal with a 25% wage increase through April of 2028, leaving now only General Motors without a contract.
The deal had a direct impact locally, adding a new vehicle for the factory in Belvidere, which the company temporarily shut down.
“This company ripped the hearts out of that community. And, Stellantis didn’t care. Brother and sisters, we made them care,” said UAW Vice President Rich Boyer.
Stellantis is not only reopening that plant, but is also adding another new battery plant in Belvidere.
Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement on Saturday night, “For over two years, I have been laser-focused on working toward a permanent solution in Belvidere that retains and grows good-paying jobs, while supporting economic development in the surrounding region… This will be thousands of jobs, billions in investment, and a huge win for Illinois.”
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, who represents Belvidere, said workers were forced to move to another plant in Ohio when the factory shuttered.
He read a message from his congressional colleague on Saturday evening, saying, “I had tears in my eyes. I have younger workers here in Toledo Jeep that were forced to relocate from Belvidere, to sell their homes and leave their wives and young children or their ill relatives. They were so emotional and they so want to return to Belvidere. I’m proud of the UAW and proud to serve with you, Bill. You know that’s why you take this job, to do everything you can for the people you represent.”
President Joe Biden called the deal a “ground-breaking contract” that offers “record raises, more paid leave, greater retirement security, and more rights and respect at work.”
But, not long after the UAW announced a tentative deal with Stellantis, the union said it’s expanding its strike against General Motors, adding workers at the Spring Hill plant in Tennessee onto the picket line.