On Friday, Stellantis announced it would lay off the Jeep Cherokee plant in Belvidere, Illinois, effective February 28, 2023. The move, which the UAW criticized as “grossly misguided”, would lay off the assembly plant’s entire workforce indefinitely. time.
In a statement issued by Automotive NewsStellantis cited several factors keeping the Cherokee assembly plant out of action, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a global microchip shortage, and rising costs related to the electrification of the automotive market.
“Stellantis has taken a number of actions to stabilize production and improve efficiency at its North American facility to maintain affordability and customer satisfaction in terms of quality,” the automaker said in a statement. “While considering other avenues to optimize operations, Stellantis has made the decision to idle the Belvidere Assembly plant.”
The UAW was quick to condemn the move, noting that the factory had been making money for the company since 1965. A statement from UAW President Ray Curry said it was unacceptable not to allocate new product to a factory like the Belvidere. He also added, “Announcing the closure just weeks from the holiday is also a cruel disregard for the contributions of our members from UAW Local 1268 and 1761. We will fight this announcement.”
The future of the Belvidere Assembly Plant had been in doubt for several years due to workers experiencing downtime and numerous layoffs. Now, as a result of this decision, the entire factory workforce will be laid off indefinitely. As part of the announcement, Stellantis indicated it would make every effort to place workers in other available full-time positions. The company also indicated it was trying to find ways to reuse the facility.
The announcement follows statements made earlier this week by Stellantis COO Mark Stewart when he said the company’s merger went well for all brands. Stewart reiterated that the company has no plans to discontinue any of the 14 brands, saying each would give it ten years to prove its worth and adding, “Everyone has a chance to fight.”