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UAW starts voting on Ultium contracts

LORDSTOWN — Members of United Auto Workers Local 1112 at Ultium Cells in Lordstown will begin voting 5 a.m. today on a four-year contract that, if ratified, provides for, in part, a pay raise, sign-on bonus and union health and safety representatives.

Voting ends 5 a.m. Sunday.

The UAW on Monday 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.

In the tentative agreement, 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. 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

Other key points in the highlighter include:

• A $1 wage premium for employees in mixing and coating “due to competencies and extensive training required for positions” in the department.

• A 10% shift premium for workers on night shift.

• Guaranteed time and a half pay after 10 hours.

• Full pay for jury duty, bereavement and short-term military pay.

• An apprentice program and apprentice representative.

• Health and safety representatives, as well as benefit and employee assistance program representatives.

• Paid relief time.

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.

Four months later, workers there voted 710 to 16 to join the UAW. Bargaining with Ultium Cells began in February 2023, and in August, an interim wage increase worth 25% on average for hourly workers was agreed upon and approved by Local 1112 members.

Before the August increase, production wages started at $15 per hour and skilled trades, at $21 per hour, according to a letter from Josh Ayers, shop chairman for Local 1112, included in the contract highlighter.

The low wages, Ayers wrote, “were causing a constant exodus of brothers and sisters to find better paying wages elsewhere.”

Last year, the UAW during its targeted strike won a key victory with GM, Ford and Stellantis, the maker of Jeep and Ram vehicles, when the automakers agreed to allow EV battery plant workers into the master agreements.

GM was the first of the three to agree. Workers at Ultium Cells voted 97% to 3% in November to approve the national agreement.

“Now that we are GM leased employees at Ultium Cells, benefits have considerably improved across the board,” Ayers wrote. “Ultium Cells has now become the most desired place of employment in the tri-county area.”

The national agreement gave union Ultium Cells employees an immediate pay increase of $6 to $8 per hour and a $5,000 signing bonus.

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.

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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