Former Belvidere Assembly workers react to UAW strike

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 6:01 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Former local autoworkers are standing by the 13,000 people who walked off their jobs at four car plants, saying the strike was a long time coming.

A General Motors factory in Missouri, a Michigan Ford plant, and a Stellantis factory in Toledo, Ohio, are currently part of the strike that went into effect at midnight Thursday as car companies and United Autoworkers could not come to terms on a labor agreement.

Some say a hike in labor costs could sway Stellantis from reopening Belvidere Assembly, where Jeep Cherokees were put together until February, although it’s not likely. They say striking workers deserve what they’re asking for.

“The CEOs are making $29 million a year, and we’re making popcorn and pennies,” said Randolph Benson, of Belvidere, who retired from Stellantis in May after 29 years. “And we’re the ones pushing the products out of that company. [Union members] deserve all of that. They deserve cost-of-living raises. So, something needs to be done. They need to stand up and keep fighting.”