Belvidere Assembly Plant Employees could return to work next week

FCA announced separation packages for employees at the Belvidere Assembly Plant.
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BELVIDERE, Ill. (WIFR) - Belvidere Assembly Plant Employees say they received a voicemail from their manager on March 21 informing them they are essential employees and should report for work next week.

The voicemail says in part, “Belvidere Assembly Plant has been classified as an essential business therefore all activities at the Belvidere Assembly Plant will continue as previously planned.”

Some employees are hesitant to possibly head back amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“We’re all in fear,” said Belvidere Assembly Line worker Thomas Stone. “We’re all shocked, angry and scared. We want to stay home until this epidemic reaches a level where we are all safe.”

City leaders agree that it’s in the best interest of everyone to not have Belvidere Plant Employees return to work.

“Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Belvidere or Boone County having people at this plant would put the region as well as those workers at an unnecessary risk,” said Belvidere Mayor Mike Chamberlain.

For the last two weeks production has been halted as part of a regularly scheduled shutdown. Jodi Tinson from FCA said in a statement:

“The company has not made any official announcements regarding production for the upcoming week.”

United Auto Workers 1268 President George Welitschinsky says he’s ordering his workers to stay home.

“The governor’s orders are to stay home,” said Welitschinsky. “We are dealing with a virus that no one knows a whole lot about and staying home that is my direction.”

Employees are angered saying their health and safety should be the priority.

“While everyone else is closed down we’re the ones who have to come in and play this game of what is it going to take,” said Stone. “Is it going to take us to refuse to work or is it going to take a person to get sick and ultimately pass away for them to close the plant down.”

The FCA said they hope to release a statement soon letting employees whether or not they will return to work next week.