UAW strike in Sycamore threatens Belvidere Chrysler production - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

UAW strike in Sycamore threatens Belvidere Chrysler production

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By Samantha Ptashkin

SYCAMORE (WREX)- A couple dozen UAW Local 1268 members spend the day in the picket line, hoping to secure their jobs. They work for Johnson Controls in Sycamore, which makes seats for the Belvidere Chrysler plant.

The strike comes just days after the Chrysler plant shut down because of a shortage of parts.

Picketers say they won't go back to work until they know the future of their jobs is safe. "Negotiations really didn't make any progress and now it got to the point where we're on strike," said Johnson Controls Employee Robert Gobtop.

Gobtop has worked as a maintenance person at the Sycamore plant for the past 15 years. He says the company has been negotiating a contract with the UAW since early January. It expired February 5 and a deadline was set for 10 p.m. on February 19. "And at 10:45 p.m. the UAW walked out," Gobtop said.

So since about 10:45 on February 19, the nearly 200 workers who belong to the bargaining unit have been on strike.

Gobtop says their main concern is the company's wish to take out a clause in their contract that says it can't outsource jobs. "They can take and move these jobs out of Illinois. They could move the jobs out of the United States. You could see this facility all but disappear," Gobtop said.

The picketers just hope they won't have to stand the line for too long to prevent that from happening. "For a few days it won't be so bad, but lets say it carries on in to the weeks, everybody's got house payments, car payments, heating and electricity, so it makes an impact," Gobtop said.

Johnson Controls has 16 locations throughout the state, including one here in Rockford. A company spokeswoman says this strike will not affect the Rockford plant at all because it's a separate division of Johnson Controls.

There was also a plant in Dixon, but it closed last fall.

Johnson Controls would not comment any further about the strike.

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