The United Auto Workers union won an election at a General Motors Co. and LG Energy Solution Ltd. electric-car battery plant in Lordstown.
Union said, that the workers of Ultium Cells LLC voted in favor of union representation with 710 employees for and 16 opposed. The plant will make battery cells for electric vehicles such as the Hummer electric pickup and Cadillac Lyriq SUV.
UAW’s success is gaining support from the workers gives the union an important entry into the electric car business. The union plans to organize workers in future plants that are being planned or built across the US to support automakers making the switch to zero-emission vehicles.
The union needs to organize factories making EV parts as automakers race to replace internal combustion engines with zero-emission vehicles. Plants making engines, transmissions and other parts for today’s conventional vehicles will eventually be phased out in favor of plants making batteries, electric motors and other components.
UAW leaders could use a victory like the organizing drive in Lordstown. Current President Ray Curry faces a run off against challenger Shawn Fain in January and other incumbent candidates lost.
“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,” Curry said in a statement. “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 UAW has identified about 135,000 jobs — mostly nonunion right now — that are at risk of going away in favor of new work making EV batteries and parts.
Workers at Ultium start at $15.50 or $16.50 an hour, depending on the work they do. The victory allows UAW to negotiate a labor contract that pushes toward the $32-an-hour rate for workers at GM’s wholly owned auto-assembly plants.
GM has a plan to build 1 million EVs in 2025. Ford wants to sell the same amount in 2026. Both automakers will need a supply of batteries to do it.
The union has tried to get into Tesla Inc. factories, so far unsuccessfully, and accused the electric-vehicle maker of unlawfully restricting organizing efforts. The National Labor Relations Board ruled that Tesla violated labor laws against promoting the union.