Billboards Critical of UAW Appear in Lordstown as Workers Prepare to Vote

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – A Washington D.C.-based interest group that is critical of organized labor has placed two billboards in the area that it says alerts the public to corruption within the United Auto Workers union.

The billboards, part of a national campaign launched by the Center for Union Facts, appeared as workers at Ultium Cells LLC’s plant here prepare to vote next month on whether to join the UAW.

“The billboards in Lordstown are part of an ongoing national campaign to educate both workers and the public on the UAW’s track record,” said Center for Union Facts Spokeswoman Charlyce Bozzello.

“Throughout our campaign, we’ve placed billboards in locations across the country where we believe there’s the greatest opportunity to generate discussion surrounding the union,” she said. “We hope the billboards lead to increased awareness about the federal investigation at the UAW.”

The billboards are placed along state Route 45 in Trumbull County that read: “Fact: UAW is under federal oversight after a corruption scandal,” and “Fact: A federal investigation put several union leaders behind bars.”

The billboard campaign refers to a corruption scandal that led to the imprisonment last year of former UAW presidents Gary Jones and Dennis Williams, and other officials.

“As the campaign is ongoing, there could very likely be more to come in Lordstown,” Bozzello said.

The billboards are not affiliated in any way with Ultium, its management, or its partners.

Mike Aurilio, recording secretary at UAW Local 1112, which once represented thousands of assembly line workers at Lordstown, said that he doesn’t believe the campaign will have any effect.

“I don’t think it will have much of an impact,” he said of the group’s campaign. “It does show you to what lengths they’ll go to keep the union out.”

The Center for Union Facts last summer placed similar billboards outside of the UAW’s Constitutional Convention in Detroit, according to a release posted on its blog.

Ultium Cells, a joint venture between General Motors Co. and Korea-based LG Energy Solution, recently began production of battery cells to supply GM’s new line of electric vehicles. It employs approximately 900 workers.

In October, the UAW filed a petition with the Cleveland office of the National Labor Relations Board that calls for an election at the Ultium plant in order to gain UAW recognition.

Previously, the UAW organized a card-check process in which 85% of the employees at Lordstown signed up in favor of UAW recognition.

However, Ultium rejected the result of the card-check process and expressed its desire for an election that would be certified by the NLRB.

“Ultium Cells respects workers’ freedom to choose union representation and the efforts of the UAW to organize battery cell manufacturing workers at our Ohio manufacturing site,” Ultium Cells’ spokeswoman Brooke Waid said in a statement in October.

“Ultium Cells will comply with the National Labor Relations Act, which protects our employees’ right to freely decide unionization through a voluntary election conducted by the NLRB,” she continued. “Ultium Cells believes the right to a personal and private vote is important.”

The NLRB vote is scheduled for Dec. 7 and 8, according to published reports.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.