CHICAGO — President Joe Biden visited Illinois on Thursday to celebrate the reopening of a suburban auto plant while highlighting his support of labor unions.
Biden, the first sitting President to join a picket line, praised the tentative deal between the United Auto Workers Union and the three major US automakers. As part of the deal, a Stellantis plant will re-open in Belvidere, returning more than a thousand jobs to the community.
The visit further highlighted Biden’s support of organized labor as he prepares for the 2024 election.
“The entire UAW proved what I already believed: Wall Street didn’t build America, the middle class built America and unions built the middle class,” Biden said.
Stellantis closed its Belvidere assembly plant back in March. A resolution was struck following a 46-day strike of UAW members, however.
“What saved Belvidere was UAW workers all over the country willing to do whatever it takes,” said national UAW president Shawn Fain.
President Biden briefly joined Michigan picket line workers several weeks back. UAW leaders said that the visible support of Biden and Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has been vital.
“This is a team effort,” Fain said. “They went to work with us and the companies to find ways to ensure that Belvidere was going to have a future and that battery and EV workers wouldn’t have to survive off of poverty wages.”
Added Pritzker: “At the forefront of it all were the men and women of organized labor. You fought for an agreement that brought it all together for working families. Higher wages, expanded benefits and more new jobs for your children and grandchildren.”
The President wrapped up his remarks by highlighting the importance of unions, saying this is a win for the working class.
“These deals are game changers,” Biden said. “Not only for UAW workers but for all workers in America.”
President Biden is set to finish his trip to Illinois with a fundraising event in Chicago.