The National Auto Workers Union won elections at the General Motors and LG Energy Solutions electric vehicle battery plant in Rosetown, Ohio, a first of its kind.
Ultium Cells LLC workers voted for union representatives, with 710 employees in favor and 16 against, the union said. The plant will produce battery cells for electric vehicles such as the Hummer electric pickup and the Cadillac Lyriq SUV.
The UAW’s success in gaining support from workers allowed the union to enter the electric vehicle business. The union plans to organize workers at future factories planned or built across the country to help automakers make the switch to zero-emission vehicles.
Tony Russo, a factory employee who voted to join the union, said, “The jobs that have been freed up are the best jobs available.” “I am delighted and look forward to working with the company in the next stage.”
The union then sets up a bargaining committee and begins working on the workers’ contracts.
Unions need to organize factories to make EV parts as automakers race to replace internal combustion engines with zero-emission vehicles. The factories that make engines, transmissions and other parts of today’s traditional cars will eventually be phased out in favor of factories that make batteries, electric motors and other parts.
UAW leaders can take advantage of victories like the organized drive at Lordstown. President Ray Curry faced a runoff vote against his challenger Sean Fain in January, losing the other incumbents.
“As the automotive industry transitions to electric vehicles, new workers entering the automotive sector at factories like Altium are thinking about their worth and value.” It shows that they want to maintain the high standards and wages they have built.”
The UAW has identified about 135,000 jobs, most of which are now ununionized and at risk of disappearing in favor of new jobs making EV batteries and parts.
GM Chief Executive Mary Barra said the company is “very supportive” of unionization efforts.
Ultium workers start at $15.50 or $16.50 an hour, depending on the work they do. The win will allow the UAW to negotiate labor contracts that raise workers’ wages at GM’s wholly-owned auto assembly plants to $32 an hour. Unions plan to push for similar elections at planned Altium plants in Tennessee and Michigan, as well as joint venture battery plants run by other automakers.
Workers interviewed last week said they hoped to earn at least $24 an hour if the union organized the factory. They also want better relationships with management, better work schedules, and set up a safety committee to handle chemicals used in EV batteries and other potentially dangerous jobs. It says it wants to create better standards for workers.
The Rosetown plant was built to make batteries for electric trucks made in Detroit and other EVs made in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Next year, Ultium will open his second battery factory in Lyriqs, with another in Michigan and plans for his fourth in a yet-to-be-announced US location. The union will organize at facilities and factories jointly owned by Ford Motor Company, Stellatis NV and their battery suppliers.
GM plans to build 1 million EVs by 2025. Ford says he hopes to sell the same amount of EVs in 2026. For that, both automakers need a supply of batteries.
Unions have tried unsuccessfully to gain access to Tesla’s factories so far, accusing the electric car maker of illegally restricting efforts to organize. The National Labor Relations Board ruled that Tesla violated a labor law banning the promotion of unions.
In a statement on Friday, GM spokesman Daniel Flores called Ultium Cells “a key supplier to GM and the future of EVs.”
“I look forward to the successful establishment of a competitive and flexible labor contract between Ultium Cells and the UAW that will help ensure the future success of Ultium Cells’ business,” said Flores.
GM CEO Mary Barra said she welcomed the UAW at the new Ultium battery plant. She told the Automobile Press Association in Detroit last week that she wants to finalize the collective bargaining “as soon as possible” and doesn’t think unionized battery workers will necessarily raise costs for automakers. He said he didn’t.
“We have a wealth of knowledge and a lot of strategies to run our operations very efficiently. “It’s not,” Barra told the APA. So we need a competitive edge to be able to reinvest in the business and secure jobs in the future.When you have that conversation on the factory floor, they get it.”