BELVIDERE, Ill. – Today the UAW released a new video, “Justice for Belvidere,” that captures the heartbreak and the hope of workers at an Illinois assembly plant idled by Stellantis in February.
Despite making $14.7 billion in North American profits in 2022, Stellantis suspended operations at Belvidere Assembly, laying off more than 1,300 workers. Multiple reports indicate that the Big Three automaker is moving production to Toluca, Mexico.
“You’re destroying families, you’re destroying relationships,” says Dawn Simms, a 24-year assembly worker at Belvidere and member of UAW Local 1268. “You got your record profit, you know. But at what cost?”
Over the last two decades, the Big Three have shut down or spun off 65 plants. While the Belvidere shutdown is a familiar story, the UAW’s aggressive and creative response to it is not.
In ongoing contract talks with the Big Three, the union has made Belvidere a centerpiece of its proposals to stop plant closures. Those include the right to strike over shutdowns and a Working Family Protection Program that would keep product in the plants and workers on the job.
The UAW has also pushed for the federal government to invest in programs that will boost domestic manufacturing and encourage the retooling of Big Three plants to produce electric vehicles (EVs). Just last week, the U.S. Department of Energy announced $15.5 billion in grants and loans that would support the conversion of plants like Belvidere for EV production.
Between massive government subsidies for EVs and Stellantis’ record-breaking profits, the money is there to bring good jobs back to heartland towns like Belvidere. The UAW supports the transition to EVs, but it must be a just transition that supports good-paying union jobs, not another race to the bottom that further subsidizes corporate greed.
Collectively, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis made $250 billion in North American profits from 2013 to 2022. In just the first six months of 2023, they raked in $21 billion in total profits.
There are just eight days left until the Sept. 14 expiration of the contract between the Big Three and 150,000 members of the UAW. Last month, union members voted by 97% to authorize a strike. The union recently raised strike pay to $500 per week per member and has over $825 million in its strike fund.
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