Workers at GM’s Ultium Cells battery plant in Warren, Ohio are seeking representation with the United Auto Workers (UAW) labor union, overwhelmingly voting in favor of a strike recognition measure late last week as a means of urging Ultium Cells to recognize the UAW as their bargaining agent.
According to a recent report from The Detroit News, which cites UAW Local 1112 President Darwin Cooper, 94 percent of voting workers at the Ultium Cells LLC battery plant in Ohio voted to approve the strike recognition measure. Although there is no deadline for the strike to occur, the vote can be used to strengthen the UAW’s bargaining position as it pushes the company to recognize the union.
In a statement, Ultium spokesperson Brooke Waid said that the company respects workers’ right to unionize, and that it will comply with the National Labor Relations Act, “which protects our employees’ right to decide the issue of union representation through a voluntary democratic election conducted by the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board).”
According to The Detroit News, however, the UAW would ideally circumvent NLRB election certification, as it would lengthen the recognition process and give the company additional time to conduct an anti-union campaign.
Under the National Labor Relations Act, if 30 percent or more of employees sign to authorize union representation, a petition for election can be filed with the NLRB. However, for an employer to voluntarily recognize employees’ union choice, more than 50 percent of employees would need to sign for authorization. With that in mind, the 94 percent of workers voting for strike authorization would indicate that employees would rather avoid an anti-union campaign.
Production at the new Ultium Cells plant in Ohio first got under way earlier this month, with the facility currently employing more than 800 hourly and salaried workers. At full production, the battery plant will employ an estimated 1,300 workers. The new facility is one of four U.S. battery plants under a joint venture partnership between GM and Korean supplier LG Energy Solution, with further battery production sites under construction in Michigan and Tennessee, and a fourth possibly slated for construction in Indiana.