Earlier this month, the UAW announced that workers at GM’s Ultium Cells battery plants would be included in the national UAW labor agreement. The inclusion of Ultium workers in the national agreement was considered a major victory for the union in ongoing contract negotiations with General Motors amid the continuing UAW labor strike. Now, General Motors has shared specific details indicating that the automaker is negotiating a separate agreement for Ultium Cells plant workers.
For those readers who may be unaware, Ultium Cells battery plants are operated under a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution. Ultium Cells is currently operating a battery facility in Ohio, while additional facilities in Tennessee and Michigan are set to begin operations next year. Ultium workers agreed to an interim pay raise in August.
During the recent Q3 2023 earnings presentation, GM CEO Mary Barra addressed the plan to incorporate Ultium Cells workers under the national UAW agreement, indicating that the automaker was also negotiating a separate agreement.
“Right now, the Ultium team, that is a separate company, is negotiating the employees that Lordstown [Ohio] voted to unionize. And so that local leadership team is negotiating with the UAW to have their own agreement,” Barra said. “We did have some conversations, and we did put an offer on the table that would put Ultium Cells under the scope of the master agreement. And we believed at the time that it was allowed for, which it must have, benchmark economics and also operating flexibility, because the battery cell plan is very different than some of the traditional operations we run right now. But at this point, that offer remains open, but the focus is on Ultium getting their own agreement.”
The UAW previously opted not to expand its strike to the GM Arlington plant in Texas, considered the most-profitable auto plant in the world, due to General Motors’ decision to include battery workers under the national agreement. The UAW has since expanded the strike to include the Arlington facility. The strike is now in its sixth week, and is estimated to have cost General Motors $800 million so far.