Workers making batteries for Chevy Bolt EVs and other General Motors electric vehicles will be represented by the United Auto Workers. The UAW announced the overwhelming 710-to-16 vote victory early Friday morning for Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solution.
“Our entire union welcomes our latest members from Ultium,” says UAW President Ray Curry. “As the auto industry transitions to electric vehicles, new workers entering the auto sector at plants like Ultium are thinking about their value and worth. This vote shows that they want to be a part of maintaining the high standards and wages that UAW members have built in the auto industry.”
The battery plant is only a few miles from GM’s former Lordstown Assembly Plant, a facility famous for its radical, sometimes violent labor activism in the 1970s that evolved through many decades into a cooperative relationship by the early 2000s. The plant built the Chevy Cruze from 2008 until its closure in 2019 as GM exited the small car business in the U.S.
Shortly after announcing it would end production in Lordstown, GM and LG announced the Ultium battery plant which began cell production earlier this year. Many of the workers hired for battery production were former union members from the GM plant.
GM sold the former plant to Lordstown Motors, an electric vehicle startup that ran low on cash and sold the facility to Taiwan’s Foxconn, maker of Apple’s iPhones. Foxconn has since signed several deals to contract manufacture EVs for Lordstown Motors, Fisker and others.
Ultium officials had long said that they would abide by whatever workers chose when it comes to union representation. Shortly after the vote total release, the company issues a statement:
“We have received election results from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and respect the decision of our Ohio workforce supporting representation by the UAW. We look forward to a positive working relationship with the UAW.”
In October, at IndustryWeek’s Manufacturing & Technology Show, Kareem Maine, plant director of Ultium Cells’ battery plant, hinted that the company wouldn’t be surprised if workers chose to unionize, given the plant’s location.
“It’s definitely an area that’s right next to the old Lordstown [plant]. So, it’s there. People have expressed wanting to be unionized before,” Maine said.