Things aren’t looking good at Stellantis’ Belvidere Assembly Plant. The long-running plant has already seen its workforce cut multiple times in the last three years. Now more bad news is coming as Automotive News reports that Stellantis plans even more layoffs at the Jeep assembly plant. And it may all have something to do with the Cherokee’s sales.
The plant has seen its share of job cuts and idles recently. The global chip shortage didn’t help matters. In February 2021, the plant laid off 150 workers. A shift reduction three months later nearly resulted in another 1,651 jobs lost. In the fall of 2021, Stellantis confirmed with local Rockford, Illinois NBC station WREX that it sent 1,100 employees an ultimatum. From WREX:
One of the letters states,
“You have the following options regarding this placement opportunity. You may decide to:
pt placement and if identified you must report to the new location by Monday, December 13, 2021.
-Decline a placement which will result in being placed on inactive status with no company-provided income or benefits. You may however, remain eligible for additional job opportunities.
Failure to respond with your decision to your Plant Human Resources by 3:00 pm on October 22, 2021 will result in your termination of employment with the Company.
These employees were also given relocation allowances of either $6,000 or $30,000.
In November, employees were told to expect another 400 layoffs. Keep in mind all these layoffs were amid multiple closures of the plant. Now Stellantis has informed employees to expect these layoffs and forced retirements by summer.
Stellantis said it notified affected employees, the state of Illinois, the city of Belvidere and the UAW on March 28 that layoffs could begin as early as May 27. The retirements will take effect on May 31.
What’s driving these layoffs? It’s more than the chip shortage. Cherokee sales are trash right now. In Q4 of 2021, Cherokee sales were down 74 percent from Q4 2020 while year-to-date sales were down 34 percent. Sales dropped to 89,126 in 2021, down from 135,855 in 2020. While it’s clear the nearly 10-year-old Cherokee isn’t as good as it used to be, it sucks that plant workers have to bear the brunt of declining sales by losing their jobs.