Fact Check: Did President Biden Help Bring An Auto Plant Back?


fact check did president biden help bring an auto plant back

During last week’s State of the Union address, President Joe Biden made a claim that seemed to suggest that his administration, along with the UAW, helped Stellantis resurrect a plant in Belvidere, Illinois. Did it actually happen that way?

The answer is unclear.

Here’s what Biden said in the speech, via the Associated Press:

The great comeback story is Belvidere, Illinois. Home to an auto plant for nearly 60 years. Before I came to office, the plant was on its way to shutting down. Thousands of workers feared for their livelihoods. Hope was fading.

Then, I was elected to office, and we raised Belvidere repeatedly with auto companies, knowing unions would make all the difference. The UAW worked like hell to keep the plant open and get these jobs back. And together, we succeeded.

Instead of auto factories shutting down, auto factories are reopening and a new state-of-the-art battery factory is being built to power those cars there at the same.

To the folks — to the folks of Belvidere, I’d say: Instead of your town being left behind, your community is moving forward again. Because instead of watching auto ja- — jobs of the future go overseas, 4,000 union jobs with higher wages are building a future in Belvidere right here in America.

Here tonight is UAW President Shawn Fain, a great friend and a great labor leader. Shawn, where are you? Stand up.

And — and Dawn — and Dawn Simms, a third-generation worker — UAW worker at Belvidere.

Shawn, I was proud to be the first President to stand in the picket line. And today, Dawn has a good job in her hometown, providing stability for her family and pride and dignity as well.

Showing once again Wall Street didn’t build America. They’re not bad guys. They didn’t build it, though. The middle class built the country, and unions built the middle class.

Here’s what happened with Belvidere: Stellantis announced in December 2022 that the plant would close indefinitely at the end of February 2023. What would become of Belvidere was a discussion point during last year’s UAW strike, and eventually a reopening of the plant was negotiated, with reports suggesting that a mid-size Ram truck would be built there, possibly followed by an electric vehicle. The reopening is slated for early 2025.

Biden stopped by Belvidere last November to give a celebratory speech.

What’s not clear is how much involvement the administration had, if any. I reached out to Stellantis and was told that the company would decline any comment on if the Biden administration was directly involved in any way.

I also asked for clarity on the future plans for the plant, and a spokesperson referred me to this earlier statement: “During the 2023 UAW contract negotiations, Stellantis remained true to our commitment to finding a sustainable solution for the Belvidere Assembly Plant, ensuring the Company’s continued presence in Belvidere for years to come. We will provide details of our plans at the appropriate time.”

Like most automakers, Stellantis generally will not comment about future product plans on the record.

So all we can say for sure is that the plant is reopening and it’s possible that the UAW’s negotiations made that happen. As for whether the president made a false claim or not, that’s open to interpretation. Biden DID stand on the picket line with UAW members in Michigan during the strike, so you could argue that Biden’s actions helped the UAW’s cause. Beyond that, though, our fact-check of this claim is “unclear”.

[Image: OogImages/Shutterstock.com]

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