UAW vote at GM, LG battery plant is a labor test for EV industry

Members and supporters of United Auto Prominent Workers attend a speech by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders outside General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant on September 25, 2019 in Detroit.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

DETROIT — For the first time this week, the United Auto Workers union will attempt to organize a large electric vehicle battery factory for an automaker in Detroit, potentially setting a precedent for other automakers. A similar multi-billion dollar facility will be born.

Driven by a national labor movement and Biden administration’s pro-union commentsLabor and industry professionals largely expect workers at an Ohio plant by Ultium Cells LLC – a joint venture between common engine and LG Energy Solution — to vote in favor of the representative of the UAW. A loss would be a major setback to the union and its organizing efforts.

“If they can show that workers there trust the union, then other battery plants could have more pressure,” said Art Wheaton, a professor of labor at the Workers’ Institute at Cornell University. to follow”.

Voting is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. About 900 workers will be eligible to vote.

The UAW’s push into battery factories comes amid a large labor movement that includes US corporations such as Amazon and Apple arrive Starbucks arrive Chipotle. Most recent, Delta Airlines and the pilots’ union last week reached a preliminary agreement to increase up to 30% in four years — a key deal that could drastically increase the wages of pilots across the industry.

Joint venture battery facilities are seen as crucial for the UAW to grow and add members, as automakers like GM transition to electric vehicles, which require less labor and transmission parts. more system than cars with internal combustion engines.

The Ultium plant in Ohio, which began production in August, is the first of at least four US-based battery manufacturing facilities under the GM-LG joint venture. The factory is expected to employ thousands of workers in the coming years. Ford Motor, Stellantis and other automakers have announced similar plants, each of which will have to be held separately from the other Ultium plants.

The factory of Ultium Cells LLC – a joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solution – begins battery production in Warren, Ohio in August 2022.


The vote held after Ultium refused to recognize the union through a quick organization process called “check cards,” despite comments from GM CEO Mary Barra expressing support for employees’ right to union.

The UAW needs a simple majority of voters, not total employees, to help the union organize the factory, according to the National Labor Relations Board, which is overseeing the process. The NLRB is expected to finalize the vote late Thursday or early Friday.

Under the NLRB rules, both parties have five business days to file an objection to challenge the outcome. After that period of time, the parties can begin to negotiate, which is when experts say things will become contentious.

Barra and other executives have said that hourly wages for factory workers at battery plants should be roughly the same as those of auto supplier workers — about $20 or less — instead of Traditional assembly line jobs pay more than $30 an hour. Ultium says hourly workers now make $16 to $22 an hour with full benefits, incentives, and tuition assistance.

Barra told investors last month: “I am credited with saying that we support those plants consolidating as we move forward. “But we also have to make sure we’re competitive.”

US President Joe Biden accompanied by Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman William Clay Ford Jr. and Ray Curry, President of United Autoworkers, during a visit to the Detroit Auto Show, to highlight electric vehicle manufacturing in the US, in Detroit, Michigan, September 14, 2022.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

How to convert traditional auto workers to new jobs for electric vehicles has been a major concern for the UAW for several years. A 2018 study by unions found that mass adoption of electric vehicles could cost the UAW 35,000 jobs, but the union says that number may now be less.

“This is a very important time for the UAW,” the organization’s president, Ray Curry, told CNBC earlier this year. “This transformative piece is about our future. It’s about a history that goes back more than 86 years.”

The UAW’s total membership of more than 400,000 has grown over the past decade as it diversified its membership outside of the automotive sector into areas such as higher education and gaming. But it is still far below the peak of 1.5 million in the late 1970s.

Ford CEO Jim Farley last month said the company expected electric vehicles to require 40% less workers in the construction of such cars and trucks.


News of max: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Back to top button