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UAW ratifies 4-year pact with Ultium Cells

LORDSTOWN — The vast majority of the 1,600 Ultium Cells hourly employees represented by the United Auto Workers voted to ratify their first local supplementary bargaining agreement, the company announced Sunday.

The employees voted 98% in favor of ratification of this first contract, which goes into effect today and expires April 30, 2028, according to a news release from Kareem Maine, Ultium Cells Ohio plant director.

Voting began at 5 a.m Friday and ended at 5 a.m. Sunday.

“We are very appreciative of everyone’s patience during the months of negotiations. It has been a long journey with multiple changes along the way. We are pleased with the results of a ratified contract, and it is a proud moment for everyone. Everyone should take some time to recognize your role in creating the first unionized battery manufacturing contract in the history of the United States. The contract captures the operational flexibility needed to be successful in the industry and recognizes employees’ efforts and continued success as a company. We look forward to the continuous partnership with the UAW as we make improvements and grow as a company,” Maine’s release stated.

Ultium workers voted in favor of organizing and representation by the UAW in December 2022, and both the union and the company have been working collaboratively toward an initial agreement since February 2023.

“This is an invigorating moment for the UAW Local 1112 sisters and brothers at Ultium Cells. The ratification on this local contract provides tangible wage increases along with essential language that provides employees avenues for success,” said Josh Ayers, UAW Local 1112 shop chairman.

“The path to get to this very moment had a few twists and turns but during that time a few key moments occurred. Ultium Cells Lordstown was the first battery plant that unionized in the United States. Also, an interim wage increase was passed during the early stages of bargaining. Last, but foremost, was the inclusion into the 2023 UAW / GM national contract that allowed the unionized workforce at Ultium Cells to become GM employees. In a matter of just a few years, working at Ultium Cells transformed from “just being a job” and into a career. The UAW and Ultium Cells will continue to build their relationship and drive not only the importance of a safe working environment but also a quality battery cell,” Ayers added.

The UAW on June 10 announced a tentative agreement between the union and Ultium Cells, a battery cell supplier for General Motors’ electric vehicles through a joint venture between the automaker and South Korea’s LG Energy Solution.

The starting production wage upon ratification is $26.91 per hour and goes to $27.72 per hour in September, according to a contract highlighter on UAW’s website prior to the vote. The starting wage increases each year thereafter to $30.88 per hour in September 2027. Also, employees will receive a wage increase after one year of work at the facility, topping out at $35 per hour in 2027, according to the highlighter.

Most members will receive a $3.59 per hour raise immediately upon ratification.

The pay for skilled trades workers will increase to $38.16 per hour immediately upon ratification and go to $39.30 per hour in September. In 2027, the hourly rate is $43.79, the highlighter shows.

In addition, employees will receive a one-time $3,000 lump sum payment.

The new wage scale will go into effect immediately and the remaining aspects of the contract will be implemented as soon as possible. It also allows for a six-month window for certain displaced Lordstown assembly plant workers to transfer back to work at Ultium Cells. The window closes Sept. 13. GM closed the assembly plant in March 2019 after more than 50 years of production.

The plant, which, according to the company’s website employs about 1,600 people, launched production in August 2022, the first to do so in the joint venture.

Have an interesting news story? Contact Business Editor Ron Selak by email at rselak@tribtoday.com. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribToday.

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