The United Auto Workers has accused Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture between GM and battery supplier LG Energy Solution, of attempting to stifle efforts to organize the workforce at its new plant in Ohio.
UAW Vice President Terry Dittes sent a letter to other union leaders regarding the Ultium Cells LLC workforce this week, which was viewed by CNBC. The letter indicated Ultium Cells LLC has “flat out rejected” a request for UAW members to enter its Ohio plant and collect organizing cards from its employees. Organizing cards are signed documents that indicate to union officials that workers wish to be represented by their organization.
“This process has been agreed to by many employers for a smooth and peaceful recognition of the UAW,” the letter said, as quoted by CNBC. “Ultium flat out rejected those simple basic features of a card check recognition we proposed.”
The publication reached out to a spokesperson for Ultium Cells LLC, who said the company is supportive of the process that allows our people to determine their own representation status, which is a matter of personal choice.” The company also acknowledged that it has had “initial discussions around a Neutrality Agreement that could enable a card check process,” at the Warren, Ohio plant.
GM CEO Mary Barra said previously that Ultium Cells LLC jobs would follow the automaker’s pay structure for its components plants, which typically pay less than vehicle assembly lines. Top wages at a GM component plant sit at around $17 per hour, which is far below the $31 per hour top wage earned by union-represented employees.
Last June, GM executive vice president for global manufacturing, Gerald Johnson, said the automaker is “supportive of the UAW,” and appeared to express support for worker organization at its Ultium Cells facilities.
“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 at the time. “Both GM and Ultium Cells LLC respect workers’ right to unionize and the efforts of the UAW to organize battery cell manufacturing workers.”