Nov 9, 2023 - News

What the UAW strike deal means for Belvidere

An aerial view of the Stellantis Belvidere Assembly Plant. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

President Biden is expected to visit the Belvidere Assembly Plant on Thursday to celebrate its planned reopening as part of a new labor contract.

Why it matters: The recent UAW strike deal brought workers better pay and conditions, but it also includes a major reinvestment in the idled Belvidere plant that once defined the northern Illinois town.

What's happening: In an unusual move, UAW workers negotiated with Stellantis to revitalize the plant just outside Rockford.

The big picture: The plan is a win for Pritzker, who's been working to sell Illinois as a hub for EV production.

What they're saying: "We figured it was a shot in the dark," UAW Belvidere president Matt Frantzen tells Axios. "Everything we ended up with here in Belvidere is definitely more than the membership could have even asked for."

Details: Stellantis plans to invest $5 billion to turn the plant into a new parts distribution center, which will include the assembly plant and a new battery facility for electric vehicle manufacturing.

  • The new contract could bring more than 3,000 jobs to Belvidere, which is more than the 1,300 lost when the plant was idled in February. It also would absorb a facility in Naperville and let workers transfer.

Context: The idling of the plant, which used to make the Jeep Cherokee, left the town with less of a sense of community, Frantzen says.

  • "I've got second-, third-generation members here that this is all they've known," Frantzen tells Axios. "You know, their schooling, their upbringing, everything revolved around this plant.
  • "It is why our wants and needs in Belvidere were different from, I think, the rest of the UAW members across the big three."

What we're watching: Stellantis hasn't yet announced which models will be made at the Belvidere plant. (Frantzen believes it will be a truck.)

  • It's also unclear how much the state will kick in for the project, which could take up to five years to complete.

What's next: The new contract still has to be ratified by the union.


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