General Motors says it will now support the efforts of the United Auto Workers to unionize employees at its two new battery plants in Ohio and Tennessee.
The automaker said previously that wages at the two new battery plants would be decided by Ultium Cells LLC – the automaker’s new battery manufacturing subsidiary, which is a joint venture with Korean battery manufacturer LG Chem. GM CEO Mary Barra indicated that worker pay at the facilities would be equivalent to what component manufacturing workers receive, which is between $15 and $17. An assembly line worker at a UAW GM facility, by comparison, can earn as much as $31.
The UAW previously encouraged GM to make sure the battery plant positions “are good-paying union jobs like those of their brothers and sisters who make internal combustion engines,” as opposed to the lesser component manufacturing wage. President Joe Biden put forth a similar sentiment, encouraging U.S. automakers to create “good-paying, union jobs of the future,” when setting up new battery and electric vehicle manufacturing plants.
In a statement released this week, GM indicated that it had changed course on the decision for its battery plant workers to organize and would now support the UAW’s efforts to implement top union wages at the plants.
“GM will build on a long history of supporting unions to promote safety, quality, training and well-paying jobs for American workers,” the automaker said in a statement. “Both GM and Ultium Cells LLC respect workers’ right to unionize and the efforts of the UAW to organize battery cell manufacturing workers.”
The UAW will be keen for workers to organize at battery and electric motor manufacturing plants, as producing these components requires fewer employees than internal combustion engines and transmissions. This, in turn, could cause union membership to dip by more than half over the next 10-15 years, experts predict.
The Ultium Cells LLC plant in Lordstown, Ohio will open later this year, while the second Ultium Cells plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee will open its doors in late 2022.
A statement released by the UAW this week indicated the union would enter a dialogue with GM regarding the battery plants shortly.
“We in the UAW look forward to starting discussions with General Motors regarding their joint venture to produce batteries in Ohio and Tennessee so workers will have a voice at the table in order to create good-paying union jobs and benefits,” the union said.