Ultium, UAW expected to start contract talks in the new year
LORDSTOWN — Ultium Cells and the United Auto Workers union are expected to start talks in January on a contract for workers at the electric-vehicle part maker’s battery-cell manufacturing factory in Lordstown.
UAW spokeswoman Sandra Engle on Friday confirmed the start of negotiations on the collective bargaining agreement, but declined further comment.
Said Ultium Cells spokeswoman Brooke Waid, “Ultium Cells is committed to the collective bargaining process, and will work in good faith with the UAW to reach a competitive agreement that positions our employees and our Ohio battery-cell manufacturing facility for success. We look forward to a positive working relationship with the UAW.”
Workers at the $2.3 billion plant decided Dec. 7 and 8 to unionize under the UAW in a vote overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. The tally was 710 to 16.
The UAW sought the election in October after it said General Motors — a partner with South Korea’s LG Energy Solution in Ultium Cells — wouldn’t recognize cards that Lordstown employees signed to join the union.
A few days after the vote, UAW President Ray Curry expressed confidence the sides could come to a quick contract agreement, according to a Dec. 12 report by Reuters. The news agency also reported Ultium Cells Vice President of Operations Tom Gallagher said the plan is to work quickly to resolve the contract.
GM CEO Mary Barra said she would like to get a contract with the union at the Lordstown plant as quickly as possible. But the issue could be rolled into national contract talks with the automakers that are coming next year.
Production at the plant launched in August. It’s now shipping battery cells to GM for use in vehicles that include the Cadillac LYRIQ and GMC Hummer EV. Once fully operational in late 2023, the plant will employ more than 1,500 workers — a number greater than originally expected.
The company has announced the sites of two other North American battery factories in Lansing, Mich., and Spring Hill, Tenn., to be built in the joint venture. The location of a fourth plant is expected to be announced soon.