Illinois leaders sound off on UAW, Stellantis tentative agreement, impact on Belvidere

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It's been two days since UAW and Stellantis reached a tentative agreement on a new contract that would end the 44-day strike against the automaker and reopen the idled Belvidere Assembly Plant.

The deal was announced in a union video that was posted to social media Saturday night.

While details were not immediately available, several government and political leaders across Illinois released the following statements over the weekend.

“With the announcement that United Auto Workers and Stellantis have reached a tentative agreement that’s good for workers and good for the state of Illinois, auto workers can get back on the job with higher wages, expanded benefits, and new and valuable opportunities in a growing industry.

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. Since the plant was idled in February, we’ve provided support to furloughed auto workers, while concurrently leading a collaborative effort with local officials and legislators to craft aggressive incentives that position Illinois at the forefront of the EV manufacturing industry. Thanks to that collaboration and the passage of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act and the Reimagining Energy and Vehicles Act, we are on the verge of significantly advancing that effort.

I’ve been in constant contact with auto workers, Stellantis executives, UAW representatives, and the White House as the bargaining has unfolded, and I am delighted we are now on the verge of getting this done. I look forward to finalizing the state’s economic package and not only reopening the shuttered assembly plant in Belvidere to manufacture electric vehicles, but also co-locating a new battery production facility. This will be thousands of jobs, billions in investment, and a huge win for Illinois.”

— Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker

“I am pleased to hear that the United Auto Workers have reached an agreement with automakers. I support working families and I know our Illinois UAW members look forward to getting back to work with a fair contract. This new agreement will offer an opportunity for hardworking people to have access to higher wages, better benefits, and the opportunity to take care of their families.

Everyone deserves access to fair compensation and to feel valued in their work. As we strive to make Illinois the best state to live, work, and raise a family, we will continue to stand with and value our workers and our labor unions—the backbone of our economy.”

— Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton

“From my very first meeting, and every one since, the President of UAW, Shawn Fain, made it clear that the future of Belvidere was a critical bargaining issue. He kept his word. Today’s announcement creates a path for every Belvidere worker to return and be part of a new EV launch.

“I spoke to Governor Pritzker this afternoon. There is a need for federal infrastructure investment on the site and I pledged our delegation’s total cooperation in that effort.”

— U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)

“Today’s tentative agreement announcement is not only great for Stellantis workers across the country — a historic deal to help to bolster UAW members and their families — but it’s especially impactful for Belvidere. This tentative agreement shows the power of companies and labor coming together to empower workers and provide them a fair and living wage while ensuring modern businesses can still compete, grow profits and succeed. This reinforces what we all know: that the future of manufacturing doesn’t mean fewer workers, the future of manufacturing depends on the power of our workforce, and I’m so proud to join the brave UAW workers in celebrating this historic tentative agreement today.”

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)

"The tentative contract agreement announced by the UAW and Stellantis today, that promises a strong future for the Belvidere Assembly Plant in both vehicle and battery production, is an important milestone along a path involving months of hard work by negotiators on both sides, as well as state, local, and federal officials.

"It is a cause for celebration for Belvidere and the generations of workers who made their careers at the Assembly Plant. Under the Governor's leadership, powerful state incentives have been assembled to help close the deal; local officials made sure that the site would accommodate Stellantis' ambitious future plans for Belvidere; and the federal incentives for EV and battery production from Congress and the Biden Administration will continue to be essential in ensuring the economic future of the Assembly Plant for generations to come.

"This milestone would not have been achieved without the incredible support for the Belvidere Plant from UAW workers throughout the country — the truest expression of the meaning of the words 'union solidarity.' This is a big win for Illinois, and means that the iconic Belvidere Assembly Plant should remain the beating heart of the entire community, and that the workers who’ve been displaced since the idling can finally return to work with a bright future."

— U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL) represents Belvidere as part of Illinois' 11th Congressional District.

"I'm excited by today's UAW announcement of a labor deal that will reopen the Belvidere Assembly Plant to begin manufacturing a new truck product and expand operations to include a new battery plant. ... This is what I've been working with state and local leaders toward for two years -- securing the plant's future and saving the thousands of jobs that support families across Boone and Winnebago counties."

— State Sen. Steve Stadelman (D-Loves Park)

This article originally appeared on Rockford Register Star: Illinois leaders sound off on UAW, Stellantis tentative agreement