Stellantis announced on Friday that it would close its Jeep Cherokee plant in Belvidere, Illinois, on February 28, 2023. The move, which the UAW called “grossly misguided,” will result in the layoff of the entire assembly plant’s workforce for an indefinite period of time.
Stellantis cited several factors, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a global microchip shortage, and cost increases related to the electrification of the automotive market, in a statement reported by Automotive News.
“Stellantis has taken a number of actions to stabilise production and improve efficiency at its North American facilities in order to maintain affordability and quality customer satisfaction,” the automaker said in a statement. “While Stellantis considers other options for optimising operations, it has decided to idle the Belvidere Assembly plant.”
The UAW immediately condemned the move, pointing out that the plant has been profitable for the company since 1965. According to UAW President Ray Curry, it is unacceptable not to allocate new products to plants such as Belvidere. He also stated, “Announcing the closure so close to the holidays is also a cruel disregard for the contributions of our UAW Locals 1268 and 1761 members. We will respond to this announcement.”
For several years, the future of the Belvidere Assembly Plant has been in doubt due to downtime and numerous layoffs. As a result of this decision, the entire workforce at the plant will be laid off indefinitely. Stellantis stated in the announcement that it would make every effort to place the workers in other full-time positions that become available. The company also stated that it is looking for a way to repurpose the facility.
The announcement comes after Stellantis’ COO, Mark Stewart, stated earlier this week that the company’s merger was working well for all brands. Stewart reiterated that the company had no plans to discontinue any of the 14 brands, saying that each would be given ten years to prove its viability and that “everybody has a fighting chance.”