Ultium workers OK strike for recognition

Union awaits company response

LORDSTOWN — Ninety-four percent of Ultium Cells workers who voted Friday did so to authorize a strike for recognition, the president of United Auto Workers Local 1112 said Monday.

Now, according to Darwin Cooper, it’s a waiting game to learn if the electric-vehicle part-maker accepts the results of a previous tally to measure interest in organizing under the International UAW or if the workers will strike to gain union recognition.

The latter, Cooper said Monday, is the least desirable of the two options.

“I don’t think anybody really wants that,” Cooper said.

Called a recognition strike, it’s a way for nonunion employees at a company to try to force the employer to recognize them as a bargaining unit and negotiate a contract by refusing to come to work. In this instance, it would be called and a deadline for recognition set by the International UAW in Detroit, Cooper said.

A spokeswoman for Ultium Cells issued a statement when requested Monday, but it was identical to one she sent Wednesday in regard to questions about the vote.

The company repeated that it “respects workers’ right to unionize and the efforts of the UAW or any other union to organize battery-cell manufacturing workers at our manufacturing sites.

“Ultium Cells has every intention of complying 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).”

Ultium Cells is a joint venture between General Motors and South Korea’s LG Energy Solution to mass produce EV battery cells for the automaker as it moves to zero emissions and full electrification.

Its $2.3 billion factory in Lordstown is the first in operation of four either under construction or planned.

Last week, the company announced it has started to manufacture the battery cells and plans to begin shipping the parts that will be part of several GM EV models by the end of the year.

The focus now is on workforce training as the plant ramps to full production, which is targeted for late 2023.

The factory employs about 800 now and expects to well exceed the 1,100 workers the company anticipated it would need, according to a top executive at Ultium Cells.

The batteries will go into vehicles with GM’s Ultium batteries, which currently include Hummer EVs, Chevrolet Silverado EV pickups and the Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV.


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