What GM's Deal Means for Belvidere

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

It's with relief and hope that Leonard Carter walks back into the Janesville G.M. plant Wednesday.
"There's nothing that I hate worse than being out in a strike situation but I was willing to stay out as long as needed to show that we are serious about wanting to be treated as people that are important commodities to GM and I'm just glad that GM recognized that," says Carter.
Janesville's local U.A.W. president Mike Sheridan says employees have good reason to feel hopeful.
"We heard words like, this is an agreement of historic proportions. There's changes that are going to be made that should help with the long term future of the rest of the American jobs at general motors," says Sheridan.
But the deal's not set in stone yet. U.A.W. leaders head to Detroit Friday to get more details and pass them along to workers. Sheridan expects Janesville employees to vote on whether or not to ratify the contract by a week from Saturday.
"I just hope everyone is happy. We'll just have to wait and see what they came up with," says Janesville GM worker Steven Peabody.
GM employees aren't the only Stateline autoworkers hoping for a good deal. In Belvidere, Chrysler workers are watching the contract process very closely. That's because it could like a lot like their upcoming deal.
"Historically they've always patterened after one another as far as the different agreements that they've had," says Sheridan.
Belvidere's local U.A.W. president Tom LittleJohn says he expects similarities between the contracts. But he adds the Big Three have some different priorities right now and it's unclear what role Chrysler's new private ownership will play in negotiations.
Right now U.A.W. International is deciding whether to negotiate with Chrysler or Ford next. Sheridan says he believes if all three automakers ratify contracts like this one. We could see a renaissance in American auto production.


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