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GM battery plant workers vote to unionize with UAW, a crucial victory for labour as the industry moves to EVs

Battery plants are viewed as crucial for automakers to transition from traditional vehicles to EVs

by The Business Pinnacle
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Workers at a General Motors (GM) joint venture battery plant in northeast Ohio prodigiously voted in favour of representation with the United Auto Workers (UAW), the union stated early Friday.

The vote was being closely observed as such battery plants are considered vital for automakers to transition from traditional vehicles with internal combustion engines to all-electric cars and trucks. Various other multi-billion-dollar plants from GM and other automakers are under construction in the United States.

The UAW accounts for 98% of votes in favour of the union. The count was 710 votes in support of United Auto Workers representation – one was void and sixteen against. The National Labour Relations Board (NLRB), which was administering the election, did not immediately respond to clarification.

Buoyed by a national labour movement and the Biden administration’s pro-union comments, labour, and industry specialists anticipated workers at the Warren, Ohio, plant of Ultium Cells LLC – a joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solution – to vote in support of the UAW’s representation.

“Our entire union welcomes our latest members from Ultium,” President of the UAW Ray Curry said in a releaGM’s.

GM transition to electric vehicles

While the auto industry transitions to electric vehicles, at plants like Ultium new workers entering the auto sector are contemplating their value and worth. This vote shows that they want to be a part of maintaining high-ranking standards and wages, Curry added.

The organizing vote comes after Ultium declined to recognize the union through an expedited organizing process called a card check, regardless of comments from GM CEO Mary Barra voicing support for the right for workers to unionize.

Ultium, in a statement on Friday, said it acknowledges, the decision of its Ohio workforce to support representation by the UAW and looks forward to a positive working affiliation with the UAW.

As per the NLRB rules, both sides have five business days to submit protestations to question the results.

On Thursday, Barra said if the Ohio plant voted in favour of organizing, she would like to agree with the union “as soon as possible.”

Making an agreement could be more combative than organizing the vote. Barra and other executives have said hourly pay for factory workers at the battery plants should be closer to that of auto supplier workers — nearly $20 or less — rather than traditional assembly line jobs that lead at more than $30 an hour. At present, Ultium said hourly workers make between $16 and $22 an hour with full benefits, incentives, and tuition assistance.

Joint venture battery facilities are viewed as crucial for the UAW to grow and add members, as automakers such as GM transition to electric vehicles, which require less traditional labour and parts than cars with internal combustion engines.

The Ultium plant in Ohio, which started production in August, is the first of the smallest amount of four U.S. battery facilities for the joint venture of GM-LG. The plants are anticipated to employ thousands of workers in the future years. Ford Motor, Stellantis, and other automakers have announced similar plants, which would each have to be organized individually in addition to other Ultium plants.

In what manner to transition traditional auto workers into new jobs for EVs has been a key concern for the UAW for several years. Last month, Ford CEO Jim Farley said the company anticipated that electric vehicles would require 40% fewer workers than conventional cars and trucks.

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