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Belvidere: 3,900 people offered separation packages; more downtime

by David Zatz on

According to local TV station WREX, FCA has confirmed that all 3,900 hourly production workers at the Belvidere, Illinois Jeep Cherokee plant have been offered voluntary separation packages.  A spokesman was quoted as saying the packages were designed to “create opportunities for those employees still on layoff.”

The separations were included in the 2019 UAW agreement, and are not a surprise to the union. One package is an incentive for retirement of $60,000, while the other is a voluntary termination that varies with seniority.  Anyone taking a package cuts all ties with FCA, with no eligibility for recalls, rehires, or re-employment.

All hourly production employees were offered the package, but less than half are expected to take it; the UAW contract shows the plant as operating for at least the next four years. Cherokee sales have flagged somewhat, causing a series of brief shutdowns (a two-week closure recently passed, and another is scheduled for February), but it still sells well.

Visible from Route 90, the Belvidere plant started up in 1965 making Plymouth Fury and Dodge Monaco wagons. The plant was named after the city (not the Plymouth Belvedere), and made rear wheel drive cars until 1977. Then it switched to the Omni/Horizon series including all the derivatives, then the front-drive Imperial, Fifth Avenue, New Yorker, and Dynasty. These were replaced by Neons, which were in turn replaced by the Caliber, Compass, and Patriot, until the Dart swept in, only to be replaced by the (same-platform) Cherokee.

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