When the Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois stopped building the Jeep Cherokee in February 2023, the plant was closed with no real outlook of it returning to production anytime soon. The recent UAW contract negotiations led to a plan for the future midsized Ram pickup to be built there, but for workers who were laid off in early 2023, the planned start of work on that truck in 2025 for the 2027 model year is a long way off. Fortunately, Stellantis has been retraining workers from that plant to fill roles in other areas of the industry, with “nearly 165” recently getting back to full-time work this week.
These former Belvidere line workers will be working at a company warehouse facility in Belvidere that is used by Mopar to distribute vehicle components to dealerships around the country. Around 115 of these workers are already trained and working at the warehouse while the rest are currently training at the Chicago Parts Distribution Center in Naperville, Illinois. Once their training there is complete, they will be transferred to the warehouse facility in Belvidere.
“It has always been our goal to find full-time employment opportunities for the Belvidere workforce,” said Mark Stewart, Stellantis North America COO. “This is a great first step in our plans to restore operations in this community and provide meaningful, high paying jobs with excellent benefits for those who are still on layoff and, eventually, for many who want to return home.”
As is the case with the midsized Ram pickup, the expansion of the distribution center in Belvidere is part of the recent labor negotiations. As part of the new contract deal, Stellantis agreed to establish what they call a “Mopar Mega Hub” in town, along with launching a new battery plant and reopening the assembly plant to built the midsized trucks. As a result, the workers who were laid off when Cherokee production ended should soon have a new local job with the company. More importantly for these folks who are starting full-time roles at the Mopar facility, part of the new labor contract eliminates the wage tier between assembly workers and warehouse workers, so these folks coming from the assembly plant to the warehouse aren’t taking a big pay cut to do so.