WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Thursday will meet in Belvidere, Illinois, with the head of the United Auto Workers union, and the two leaders are expected to highlight plans to reopen an auto factory that Stellantis wanted to close.
The White House announced in a statement Tuesday afternoon that during the visit, Biden will deliver remarks and meet with UAW members and the union’s president, Shawn Fain.
The event will be an opportunity for the president and Fain to publicly showcase tentative contract agreements that ended a nearly 45-day union strike that targeted General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, maker of Jeep, Dodge and Ram vehicles.
Biden will “highlight his commitment to delivering for working families and creating good-paying union jobs, as well as the UAW’s historic agreement that includes bringing thousands of UAW jobs back to Belvidere and reopening a plant,” the White House said.
The contracts, if approved by 146,000 union members in the coming weeks, would dramatically raise pay for auto workers. In the deal with Stellantis, the union was able to save the idled factory in Belvidere, a small city of 25,000 on the northern edge of the state.
Biden made it a mission to cultivate a personal relationship with Fain, inviting him to a private Oval Office meeting on July 19 and calling him last week to wish him a happy 55th birthday. The UAW has yet to endorse Biden as members have yet to fully approve the contracts, making the union one of the major holdouts as other labor organizations have backed the Democratic president.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker will also attend Thursday’s meeting, the White House said.
Under the deal with the UAW, Stellantis agreed to build a new gas-powered midsize pickup truck in Belvidere, plus open a new electric vehicle battery plant in the city. About 1,200 workers will be brought back to the idled plant and another 1,300 will be added at the battery factory.