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GM-LG battery plant workers ratify initial deal, UAW local says

Kalea Hall, The Detroit News on

Published in Business News

United Auto Workers-represented employees at General Motors Co.'s first operating joint-venture battery plant in northeast Ohio have ratified an inaugural local contract with the company.

Workers at the Warren, Ohio, Ultium Cells LLC plant, owned by GM and battery supplier LG Energy Solution, approved the new four-year deal with 98% voting yes in balloting that began Saturday and concluded Sunday, UAW Local 1112 said. The deal comes with a $3,000 bonus, wage increases and enhanced health and safety protocols.

As the first battery plant to open and be organized by the UAW, the contract sets a standard for pay at new and coming battery plants. The plant opened in August 2022 and has about 1,600 hourly employees, according to Ultium.It's near the former GM Lordstown Assembly Plant, which closed in 2019. Workers organized with the union in December 2022 and are represented by UAW Local 1112.

In a statement, UAW Local 1112 Shop Chairman Josh Ayers said the agreement "includes tangible wage increases along with essential language which provides employees avenues for success. The UAW and Ultium Cells will continue to build their relationship and drive not only the importance of a safe working environment but also a quality battery cell."

One of the key issues of last year's negotiations between the UAW and the Detroit Three automakers, which included a 46-day strike at GM, was organizing at joint venture-owned battery plants and whether those workers would be included in the union's master contract with the companies, making them eligible for similar pay and benefits as autoworkers at assembly and component plants. GM ultimately agreed to include Ultium Cells employees in its master agreement.

The new UAW-Ultium deal will give most workers a $3.59 per hour raise immediately.

 

Production workers with at least one year of seniority will go from $26.91 to $30.50 per hour, maxing out at $35 per hour in September 2027. At the end of their contract in 2028, GM workers at assembly plants and other facilities will make $42.95 per hour.

"We are pleased on the results of a ratified contract, and it is a proud moment for everyone," Kareem Maine, Ultium Cells Ohio plant director, said in a news release. "Everyone should take some time to recognize your role in creating the first Unionized battery manufacturing contract in the history of the United States. The contract captures the operational flexibility needed to be successful in the industry and recognizes employee’s efforts and continued success as a company. We look forward to the continuous partnership with the UAW as we make improvements and grow as a company.”

GM and LG also have an Ultium Cells plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, where battery production started in March 2024. The companies plan to start production at another Ultium plant in Lansing later this year. Those plants have not been organized.

The 2023 UAW-GM agreement opened the way for workers displaced by the 2019 closure of Lordstown Assembly the opportunity to transfer to the nearby joint-venture battery plant in northeast Ohio.

Of 800-some eligible former Lordstown employees, 200 have so far taken the offer, The Detroit News previously reported.


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