UAW members at GM's joint venture battery plant in Ohio approve contract

UAW workers at the Ohio plant that supplies battery cells for General Motors electric vehicles have overwhelmingly approved a new contract.

The workforce at Ultium Cells, which is a joint venture between GM and South Korea-based battery company LG Energy Solution, voted to unionize in December 2022, five months after the facility started production.

The contract, which won 98% approval, will pay production workers $35 an hour by October 2027.

UAW President Shawn Fain had praised the tentative agreement, which was announced last week. Workers voted over from 5 a.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Sunday.

"In this agreement, we have raised the top production wage from $20 after seven years on the job, to $35 after one year on the job, by the end of the deal," Fain wrote last week on www.uaw.org/Ultium. "Our starting wage has gone up from $16.50 to $26.91. We have better health and safety language at Ultium than anywhere in this industry. We have made major gains for skilled trades, on scheduling, and on dozens of other important issues."

The plant, which employs 1,700 people according to www.ultiumcells.com, is adjacent to GM's former Lordstown Assembly Plant. GM idled Lordstown Assembly in 2019 and later sold it to electric truckmaker Lordstown Motors.

One of the main issues around the union's negotiations with the Detroit automakers last fall was organizing the joint-venture battery plants and whether those employees would be included in the UAW's national agreement with GM. That would give them equal pay and benefits as workers at assembly plants.

In what was a big win for the union during its 46-day targeted strike last fall, GM agreed to allow Ultium Cells employees to be included in the master contract. When UAW members ratified the new contract with GM last November, employees at Ultium Cells received an immediate pay raise of $6 to $8 per hour.

This article includes background information reported by Free Press General Motors reporter Jamie L. LaReau.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: UAW members at GM's Ultium Cells approve contract deal

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