Among the numerous features of the tentative contract agreement between GM and the UAW is a clause making former employees of the GM Lordstown Assembly Complex eligible to apply for jobs at the Ultium Cells battery plant in Warren, Ohio.
The UAW notes that “thousands of UAW members had to move, retire, or lose their jobs” with “devastating” effects on the city when GM permanently shuttered Lordstown Assembly in March 2019. Before its closure, the facility employed about 3,000 people, 2,700 of them wage employees and 300 salaried. The plant closed after the Chevy Cruze sedan it was building was discontinued.
In June of this year, The General’s CEO Mary Barra said the Lordstown closure was handled poorly and its employees should have been offered work at other GM plants. Now, this idea has achieved a somewhat belated reality four years later as a result of the UAW’s Stand Up Strike.
By the terms of the new agreement between the automaker and the UAW, all former Lordstown employees will receive a 6-month window during which they can apply for a job at Ultium Cells Warren. Workers had to be actively employed at the plant as of November 26th, 2018 in order to be eligible for a transfer to Ultium Cells.
The agreement further stipulates these returning workers “will retain their current wages, benefits, and seniority” in the new job at Ultium Cells. Most can expect a pay increase of $6 to $8 per hour at the start, with wages and salaries rising over the four years of the contract. The minimum hourly pay at ratification of the contract will be $26.91 for production workers and $31.80 for employees with skilled trade jobs.
Minimum hourly wages will increase at the plant four times over the life of the contract. At the end of the contractual period on September 20th, 2027, production workers will get at least $30.88 per hour and skilled trades workers no less than $36.49 hourly. All new employees will start with 75 percent of the UAW-GM National Agreement’s maximum wage rate.
The Ultium Cells Warren plant was running at 75 percent capacity in October and is expected to reach 100 percent capacity in November. Production is estimated at 36 million cells in 2023 and 100 million cells during 2024.
The UAW-GM National Agreement, which still needs to be ratified by union members, will change jobs that are “dangerous, difficult, and pay low wages” into much better-paying union jobs.