General Motors unveiled its all-new modular platform and battery system, Ultium, on March 4, 2020 at its technology center campus in Warren, Michigan.
Photo by Steve Ficht for General Motors
Detroit — general motors’ Ultium Cells has agreed to increase wages for workers at its battery plant in Ohio by an average of 25%, the company and the United Auto Workers union said Thursday.
Ultium, a joint venture with LG Energy Solution, is key to the automaker increasing its supply of batteries for its growing fleet of electric vehicles. The deal is a big win for Etihad, as it is the first major battery manufacturer in the country.
UAW and Ultium have been in labor talks for about 1,100 workers at the plant since the majority of employees agreed to organize with the union last year. The union has previously argued that battery workers should be paid the same wages as their traditional engine and car assembly counterparts.
Ultium workers currently earn approximately $20 to $25 an hour for production workers and $25 to $34.60 an hour for maintenance personnel. The union said the pay increases would range from $3 to $4 an hour. With these increases, they will still be paid less than the $32 an hour traditional UAW assembly workers earn at Detroit automakers.
The initial agreement, which must be ratified by the workers, is not a complete agreement. It deals with wages of workers but does not include other dynamics and processes. If ratified, workers would be paid back pay of between $3,000 and $7,000.
“While the ‘first’ agreement is being negotiated in its entirety, the committee continues to work diligently in negotiating working conditions, health and safety, seniority rights, addressing other issues raised by members and future pay increases for the term of this agreement.” Josh Ayers, president of UAW Local 1112, said in a statement.
This is a separate agreement from the ongoing national negotiations between the UAW, General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis, which covers approximately 150,000 workers.
Ultium Cells LLC — a joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solution — began production of battery cells in Warren, Ohio, in August 2022.
The Ultium plant in Ohio, which began production in August, is the first of at least four US battery facilities in joint ventures with General Motors. The factories are expected to employ thousands of workers in the coming years. Ford, Stellantis and other automakers have announced similar plants, each of which must be regulated separately by the union along with other Ultium plants.
“This agreement is an important and meaningful step as we continue to negotiate collaboratively and in good faith with the UAW to reach a comprehensive contract,” Kareem Min, Ultium plant manager in Ohio, said in a statement. “Our team members are at the core of our business, and we are proud to be able to reach a temporary pay increase agreement that prioritizes our fantastic workforce.”
The vote to ratify the UAW’s membership is expected to end by August 27. If ratified, the temporary wage increase will be retroactive, and current, active hourly employees will receive back pay for each hour worked since Dec. 23. Any current employee who has worked since then can receive a one-time payment of between $3,000 and $7,000, based on hours worked.