Detroit automakers have previously closed plants in advance of contract discussions, only to reopen them once an agreement had been reached with unions. General Motors has decided to end production at its Hamtramck factory in Detroit in 2019 so that it may produce the first model of its next-generation electric vehicle there as contract talks get underway.
There were attempts to negotiate to reopen the GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio, but GM was resistant. Although the Lordstown factory was sold, GM started construction on a new battery plant a mile distant. Workers at a battery manufacturing voted decisively this month to join the United Automobile Workers.
The facility would be a significant talking point in next year’s UAW presidential election
In an interview, UAW President Ray Curry said he and Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares have been working with the Biden administration and the governor of Illinois to keep the Belvidere facility operating.
He stated, “I can say that the governor hasn’t given up, I haven’t given up, and we’re all working to keep that facility alive.” The company is exploring options to put products in Belvidere. Five candidates were in the November election, and Mr. Curry barely beat out reformist Sean Fein. Early in the new year, Mr. Curry and Mr. Fain will compete in a runoff election.
Mr. Fain promised to exert significant pressure on Stellantis to save jobs by appointing new models to construct in Belvidere. He claimed that in the past, UAW leaders had been too lenient in giving in to Ford, GM, and Stellantis’ demands for reduced salaries, benefits, and jobs.