Stellantis tells UAW they'll reopen that plant the union's so hep on

(AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)

This may not be shaking out the way the United Auto Workers envisioned after all.

Yeah, their president got to talk tough, and they walked out with a new strategy, striking all 3 major automakers at the same time, one facility at a time.


Striking a blow for the little guy may wind up costing lots of little guys.

Part of the union demands to carmaker Stellantis (Jeep and Chrysler among a myriad of other brands) pre-walkout included reopening the Belvidere, IL assembly plant. It closed down in February of this year as Jeep Cherokee sales dried up.

The facility is massive.

Once home to as many as 5,000 production employees, Stellantis idled the plant in February after sales of the Jeep Cherokee faltered and as the company works to transition much of its fleet to electric vehicles. Its remaining 1,219 production workers, some of whom were offered jobs at other plants, were laid off indefinitely.

…Although the employee parking lots are mostly empty at the plant, other lots are filled with pickup trucks and vehicles headed for dealerships across the region. The Belvidere Assembly Plant, despite idling, remains a rail transportation hub for Stellantis vehicles ready to be shipped to dealerships, a company spokeswoman said.

It is unclear if the plant will re-open and what vehicles it would produce if it were to do so.

Stellantis — the maker of Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler vehicles among many others formed from a joining of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Peugeot of France — has so far not definitively said what its plans are for the 5.4 million-square-foot plant. No closure agreement was reached with the United Auto Workers which has a contract through September with the automaker.


The union wants that plant back open, and apparently Stellantis already had a plan in mind to do just that, while closing 18 other U.S. facilities.

Be careful what you wish for, UAW. You might just get it.

The most recent contract proposal by automaker Stellantis to the United Auto Workers union could lead to the closure of 18 U.S. facilities, but it could also bring new investments and repurpose an idled vehicle assembly plant in Illinois, sources familiar with the discussions told CNBC.

The plans would likely affect thousands of UAW members, shrink the automaker’s North American footprint and create a new “modernized” parts and distribution network, which company and union leaders were at odds over, the sources said.

A focal point of the plan is possible closures of 10 “Mopar” parts and distribution centers, which are scattered across the country, to consolidate them into larger Amazon-like distribution centers, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks are private and ongoing. The proposal included a potential “Mega Hub” at Belvidere Assembly, which the automaker indefinitely idled in February.

See, guys? You get your plant reopened – well, the building anyway. And the “Amazon-like” should strike fear into every member’s heart, because what jobs aren’t going away when they close those now unneeded smaller MOPAR centers, etc, will require moving the lucky union members who get to keep jobs across country.


Union leaders probably took a good gulp at the offer when it crossed the desk.

…Reopening the Illinois plant would be a major win for UAW leaders, but they have concerns about employment, uprooting workers and families, along with pay and automation, according to two of the sources.

Specifically, they worry new facilities may not employ as many union members as the assembly plants and current parts and distribution centers, they said. Mopar jobs also pay less than positions at traditional assembly facilities such as Belvidere, which was producing Jeep Cherokee SUVs until its idling in February.

And then they blew it out the door with their usual graceless bluster.

It’s all still up in the air and Stellantis isn’t willing to revisit the proposal again until there’s a contract, considering the union rejected the offer before walking out.

…Stellantis North American Chief Operating Officer Mark Stewart, who is overseeing the UAW talks, said the company needs to “modernize” the Mopar facilities. Without disclosing exact details, he said those plans would not impact employment.

“We need to make investments into Mopar,” Stewart said during a media roundtable Saturday. “In a lot of cases, it … doesn’t make sense to make those investments in the location that they’re in.”

Stewart, without disclosing details of the plan, described the company’s proposal for Belvidere as a “very compelling offer.” However, he said it was contingent upon the union agreeing to a tentative deal before a strike.

So we will have to revisit all of those items, but very compelling solution for that, which was rejected,” he said Saturday.

Stellantis’ most recent proposal to the UAW included raises of nearly 21% over the course of the contract, including an immediate 10% pay increase, and would end wage tiers for some workers in addition to other bonuses and benefits. Benefits in the proposal are in line with other offers from GM and Ford.


Stellantis was pretty unhappy with the truculent tone the UAW took rejecting the offer out of hand.

Maybe the terms for the union won’t be even as favorable this time around, if at all? There are other idled facilities in the mix for these proposed mega-hubs – Belvidere isn’t the end all and be all answer for the company.

The UAW isn’t only fighting Green initiatives – it’s fighting a completely transitioned business climate.

…Mopar is a combination of motor and parts, which was formed nearly a century ago. Stellantis says it has 20 U.S. Mopar parts and distribution centers and more than 2,000 active employees in the unit.

Mopar was an expected major growth area for company predecessor Fiat Chrysler, which established a growth plan for the employees and facilities. But the sites were set up before Amazon’s major push for mega distribution centers, which have changed how many of them do business.

But they’re fighting with rocks and stones at the moment. They need to be strategically smarter or they won’t have anything left to fight about.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on HotAir Videos