Here in Illinois, the president addressed UAW workers as the Democratic president attempts to shore up his flagging popularity and mobilize support for his economic strategy.
BELVIDERE, Ill. Following a more than six-week strike, the UAW tentatively secured a labor agreement with the Detroit 3 automakers. President Joe Biden stated on Thursday that he wants similar terms for all American auto workers.
“I want this type of contract for all auto workers and I have a feeling the UAW has a plan for that,” Biden stated. According to him, Toyota Motor Corp. “had no choice” but to increase hourly wages for U.S. workers due to the UAW agreement.
As the Democratic president attempts to shore up his declining popularity and garner support for his economic strategy in front of a reelection campaign next year, Biden addressed UAW members here in Illinois.
Wearing a red UAW T-shirt, Biden praised UAW President Shawn Fain and emphasized the tentative contract agreements reached between the union and the Detroit 3, which put an end to over six weeks of strikes. The agreement called for Chrysler parent Stellantis to reopen its Belvidere assembly factory and to invest billions of dollars in additional projects there.
Biden told reporters en route to the event that he “absolutely” supports the UAW’s attempts to unionize workers at Toyota and Tesla Inc.
Toyota stated that it aims to “foster positive morale” and increase worker productivity in reaction to Biden’s comments. The Japanese carmaker said in a statement, “Our team members ultimately decide whether to unionize.”
After being let go from the Belvidere plant, Nichelle Cruz said she was taken aback to learn on Tuesday that Biden would be visiting the area. When she was asked to share her experience and present Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, her initial disbelief gave way to anxiety.
Cruz began working at the plant in 2009 and has nearly thirty years of corporate experience. She had previously worked at Chrysler’s St. Louis minivan facility until its closure in 2008. After that, she came to the Belvidere Assembly facility.
Cruz has been living away from her spouse, who is currently employed at the Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio after losing his job in Belvidere in 2019. Cruz loudly declared during her statement that she was going to get her husband back because of the tentative agreement between the UAW and the union, which is currently up for vote and will allow displaced workers from Belvidere to return.
After being idled in February, the Belvidere facility is now scheduled to begin building a midsize pickup in two shifts in 2027. The facility last produced Jeep Cherokee SUVs.
Additionally, Stellantis intends to combine operations from its Marysville, Chicago, and Milwaukee parts distribution locations in Belvidere to build a $100 million Mopar parts hub the next year. According to the UAW, the carmaker plans to start stamping parts in 2025 to facilitate Belvidere hub replacements.
1,300 jobs will be created by Stellantis’ $3.2 billion joint venture battery project in Belvidere, which is scheduled to open in 2028.
Before her speech, Cruz told Automotive News that she was touched to witness Biden walk the picket line alongside striking General Motors employees at a parts distribution center in the Detroit region last month.
Cruz remarked, “I just think this is awesome.” It’s a lovely day today. Was it necessary for the US president to be here? Now go on. That is very significant. Merely for him to come here and support UAW by taking time out of his schedule.”
Speaking with Biden on Thursday, Belvidere Mayor Clint Morris declared that it was a “historic day” for the town.
Morris claimed to have empathy for the laid-off workers since he had a similar circumstance in 1982 when he was unable to maintain his young family after losing his job in the machine tool sector.
He was pleased to see an agreement come to fruition that will restore jobs to the region.
Morris told Automotive News, “I couldn’t be more proud of the agreement that they were able to strike between Stellantis and the UAW.” “And all the assistance that the state, Governor Pritzker, and local representatives here have received, even at the federal level.” We managed to unite behind a shared objective and go in the correct direction.