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Ultium Cells workers to vote on union next month

LORDSTOWN — Workers at the Ultium Cells plant in Lordstown are scheduled to vote next month on whether to unionize under United Auto Workers, according to a filing with the National Labor Relations Board.

Meanwhile, two billboards critical of the UAW have been erected on state Route 45 in the vicinity of the Lordstown plant ahead of the vote, which according to the filing, is Dec. 7 and 8 at the factory.

The $2.3 billion plant is the first in operation of four either under construction or planned under a joint venture between General Motors and South Korea’s LG Energy Solution to mass produce battery cells for electric vehicles.

Production began in September with plans to begin shipping parts that will be part of several GM EV models by the end of the year.

The plant has about 900 workers. It expects to employ upward of 1,100 when it reaches full production sometime in late 2023.

The UAW in October filed a petition for an election with the labor relations board office in Cleveland, stating then Ultium Cells refused to recognize cards the employees signed to join the union, a process better known as card check.

“By refusing to recognize their majority will, Ultium … has decided to ignore democracy and delay the recognition process. Make no mistake: whether it is by card check or union election, these workers will be members of the UAW,” union President Ray Curry said Oct. 31 in a prepared statement.

Ultium said then that it respects workers’ right to choose union representation and will comply with the National Labor Relations Act, which protects employees’ rights to freely decide unionization through a voluntary election conducted by the labor relations board.

“Ultium Cells believes the right to a personal and private vote is important,” the company said.

The UAW on Wednesday declined to comment on the election.

Ultium Cells repeated its statement from October when asked about the election.

A notice for a stipulated election agreement also was filed with the labor relations board, according to its website. It was not available for view, so this newspaper Wednesday filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the document.

BILLBOARDS

The billboards were put up Monday by the Center for Union Facts, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit interest group “that fights for transparency and accountability in America’s labor movement,” its website states.

“The billboards are part of an ongoing national campaign to educate both workers and the public on the UAW’s track record,” said the organization’s spokeswoman Charlyce Bozzello in an email Wednesday.

The group also placed a mobile billboard outside the UAW’s Constitutional Convention in July in Detroit.

Locally, the two signs on Route 45 state “FACT: A federal investigation put several UAW leaders behind bars” and “FACT: UAW is under federal oversight after a corruption scandal.”

Said Bozzello: “We hope the billboards lead to increased awareness about the federal investigation at the UAW.”

Since 2017, there have been 11 UAW officials who have pleaded guilty in a corruption probe, including former presidents Gary Jones and Dennis Williams, who were sentenced to prison.

The billboards are not affiliated with Ultium Cells, according to Bozzello.

rselak@tribtoday.com

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