Workers at an electric vehicle battery factory near Warren, Ohio, overwhelmingly voted to join the United Auto Workers. The 710-16 vote, announced by the National Labor Relations Board Dec. 9, marks the first time workers have won union representation in this burgeoning industry.
The plant is owned by Ultium Cells, a joint venture between General Motors and South Korean-owned LG Energy Solution. Ultium has announced plans to build two more battery factories, in Lansing, Michigan, and Spring Hill, Tennessee. As part of the auto bosses’ competition to take the lead in electric car sales, Ford says it will build three battery factories in Kentucky and Tennessee, while Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, says it will put plants in Kokomo, Indiana, and in Canada.
So far bosses have succeeded in keeping the union from representing workers at billionaire Elon Musk’s Tesla plants.
In replacing production of internal combustion engines with electric vehicles, bosses aim to cut as many as 35,000 jobs, the UAW says. At Ultium, which is located close to where GM ran its now shuttered Lordstown plant, the company says wages range between $15 and $22 per hour. UAW-represented workers at other GM, Ford and Stellantis battery factories make up to $30 an hour.