BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — The union representing 1,300 employees at the Belvidere Assembly Plant blasted the decision by Stellantis to idle the facility in February.
“We believe Stellantis is grossly misguided in idling this plant which has produced profits for the company since 1965,” said UAW President Ray Curry said in a Facebook post. “Not allocating new product to plants like Belvidere is unacceptable. Announcing the closure just a few weeks from the holidays is also a cruel disregard for the contributions of our members from UAW Locals 1268 and 1761. We will fight back against this announcement.”
Stellantis said in a statement Friday that rising costs associated with the industry’s push to make more electric cars is the chief reason for darkening the plant. Estrada said there are several options within the electric-car space that could keep Belvidere open.
“There are many vehicle platforms imported from other countries that could be built in Belvidere with skill and quality by UAW members at Belvidere,” said UAW Vice President and Director of the Stellantis Department Cindy Estrada, adding that the union is “deeply angered” by the announcement. “The transition to electrification also creates opportunities for new product.”
Companies like Stellantis receive billions in government incentives to transition to clean energy, Estrada said.
“It is an insult to all taxpayers that they are not investing that money back into our communities.”
The company announced a workforce reduction in May, in order to allow the plant to operate in “a more sustainable manner.”
Stellantis shut the plant down for multiple production pauses throughout the last few years as it grappled with various supply chain issues and microchip shortages that have been plaguing the automobile industry.