Jeep to Close Their Illinois Cherokee Plant
By Mark Schwendau
In a recent interview with Reuters, the shop chairman for United Auto Workers (UAW) union Local 1268 disclosed that company documents indicate that Cherokee production will relocate from Belvidere, Illinois, to a Stellantis’s (makers of Jeep) plant in Toluca, Mexico. Friday, Stellantis announced a decision to idle its Belvedere, Illinois, plant starting Feb. 28, 2023, and notified 1,350 workers of coming layoffs.
(Via Fox) […] “This difficult but necessary action will result in indefinite layoffs, which are expected to exceed six months and may constitute a job loss under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. As a result, WARN notices have been issued to hourly and salaried employees,” it said. “The company will make every effort to place indefinitely laid-off employees in open full-time positions as they become available.”
Stellantis blamed the plant shutdown on three major factors related to decreased sales; The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the global supply chain microchip shortage, and the most impactful challenge being the increasing cost related to the electrification of the automotive market. It is highly probable that Jeep fans will not want to own and drive an electric Jeep since they are made for rugged off-road use from time to time, and electric vehicles have been performing poorly in pickup truck varieties issued previously.
Through the third quarter of 2022, Jeep Cherokee sales were down a whopping 61 percent year-to-date compared to last year, with only 30,852 sold in the first nine months of this year. These figures offered the context for a Stellantis announcement on Friday when they said they would be idling the Cherokee plant in Belvidere, Illinois.
Part of the Stellantis announcement read:
“This difficult but necessary action will result in indefinite layoffs, which are expected to exceed six months and may constitute a job loss under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. As a result, WARN notices have been issued to both hourly and salaried employees. The company will make every effort to place indefinitely laid-off employees in open full-time positions as they become available.”
The 1964 Belvidere plant has had a long and proud history of producing a wide variety of vehicles for the world as follows:
- Dodge Polara/Plymouth Fury/Chrysler Town & Country (station wagon)
- Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon (1978-1990)
- Dodge Charger (L-body) (1982-1987)
- Chrysler New Yorker (1988-1993)
- Dodge Dynasty (1988-1993)
- Chrysler Imperial (1990-1993)
- Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue (1990-1993)
- Plymouth Neon (1994-2001)
- Dodge Neon (1994-2005)
- Dodge Caliber (2007-2012)
- Dodge Dart (2013–2016) (1965-1968)
- Jeep Compass (2007–2016)
- Jeep Patriot (2007–2016)
- Jeep Cherokee (2017-Present)
- Stellantis is said to be working to identify other opportunities to repurpose the Belvidere plant but has no additional details to share at this point in time.
The UAW, which represents workers at the plant, released a statement as follows:
“We are all deeply angered by Stellantis’ s decision to idle the Belvidere Assembly plant without a plan for future product,” says UAW Vice President and Director of the Stellantis Department Cindy Estrada. “There are many vehicle platforms imported from other countries that could be built in Belvidere with skill and quality by UAW members at Belvidere. The transition to electrification also creates opportunities for new product. Companies like Stellantis receive billions in government incentives to transition to clean energy. It is an insult to all taxpayers that they are not investing that money back into our communities.
We believe Stellantis is grossly misguided in idling this plant which has produced profits for the company since 1965,” adds UAW President Ray Curry. “Not allocating new product to plants like Belvidere is unacceptable. Announcing the closure just a few weeks from the holidays is also a cruel disregard for the contributions of our members from UAW Locals 1268 and 1761. We will fight back against this announcement.”
I estimate this announcement won’t sit well with many Jeep owners and fans. For many years, Jeep has been the most all-American-made vehicle in America. I once read an article that reported 85 percent of all Jeep parts were made and assembled in America.
Jeep began in 1941 as part of the WW-II effort. When the war ended, many veterans wanted to continue to drive the same Willy’s Jeeps they drove in the war. Jeep Wrangler/Gladiator owners carry on the tradition of having their own wave consisting of a two-finger salute in a “V” form for victory as Jeep was declared “the vehicle that won the war.”
I have been driving Jeeps going back to 1987 when they were owned by American Motors Corporation (AMC) with Renault. I have since seen the brand name change hands to Chrysler, Daimler, Cerberus Capital Management, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and Stellantis. By my own calculations, I have driven 7 Jeeps over half a million miles, every one of them a standard transmission.
American Jeep freaks will not take kindly to the product line being moved south of our open border to circumvent union labor contracts… unless it is just the electric Jeeps which most true Jeep enthusiasts won’t be buying or driving anyway.
In 1996 I toured the Belvidere plant with my college students on an industrial field trip. It was one of the best factory tours I have ever been on! I know I had at least one of my college graduates go to work there after that. My heart aches for all of the workers in Belvidere. They deserved better!
Let this be a lesson to all the unions of America, Joe Biden, and the Democrats are no friends to labor!
This news even made FOX News in a recent broadcast, as shown here:
Copyright © 2022 by Mark S. Schwendau
Mark S. Schwendau is a retired technology professor who has always had a sideline in news-editorial writing where his byline has been, “Bringing little known news to people who simply want to know the truth.” He classifies himself as a Christian conservative who God cast to be a realist. Mark is an award-winning educator who has published seven books and numerous peer-reviewed trade journal articles, some of which can be found on the Internet. His father was a fireman/paramedic, while his mother was a registered nurse. He holds degrees in technology education, industrial management, OSHA Safety, and Driver’s Education. His website is www.IDrawIWrite.Tech.
Illinois snd the UAW both deserve this. Leftism caused this, with the pandemic and electrification.
As a born-and-raised Illinoisan (rural/small town), who has long since left my once-lovely and much beloved, but now desperately corrupt state behind, I understand the “Illinois […] deserves this” sentiment very well. But the thing is, it isn’t “Illinois.” It’s Chicago and the rest of Cook County, and Rockford and Peoria and Springfield and Champaign/Urbana and East St Louis, etc., all of which relentlessly vote the Totalitarian Maoist ticket, and keep the rest of the very red state residents in their chokehold.
It’s easy to say, “Why don’t they just pull up stakes and get out of there?” Many have, including me. But as a friend of mine, whose farm lies in the beautiful area between Galesburg and the river, laments, “We can’t do that. We’ve lived here all our lives. The farm came to us from my husband’s father, and his before him. Farming isn’t just our livelihood … it’s our way of life … it’s our community. Although I suppose,” she said, “if someone can show us how to pick up our acreage and all the outbuildings, etc., yeah, sure … we’d move our farms to a state whose hate for us isn’t quite so severe.”
So they just keep on keeping on, heading toward a future overwhelmed with uncertainty, every idiot regulation coming out of Springfield and out of DC designed to ultimately destroy them (not to mention the Bill Gates Cabal). They know this … and they recognize, and have long recognized, the bureaucratic juggernaut for what it is … and grieve for the lives their children and grandchildren are unlikely to ever have.
I am much the same as your friends, very loyal to Illinois. I just wish the minorities and unions would wise up to the scam that is today’s Democratic Party. That would change things.
It would. The problem, as I see it, however, is that those who comprise those two camps (unions and minorities) are of a mindset that insists they’re never getting an aberrant thing called “their fair share,” The Democrat Party and the Union Bosses drum it into their heads that they are being cheated, and they believe it. Result same as it’s been for decades upon decades: they continue to vote for their own slavery.
… and take the rest of us down with them. It’s … agonizing.
We have millions pouring over our southern boarder from Mexico putting downward pressure on wages here, but Jeep is moving a manufacturing plant to Mexico. Does Not Compute.