UAW Files Petition for Union Election at Ultium
DETROIT — The UAW today filed a petition with the Cleveland office of the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of approximately 900 workers at Ultium Cells LLC in Lordstown.
The petition calls for a union election at the plant in order to gain recognition. Previously, the UAW organized a card-check process in which 85% of the employees at Ultium Lordstown signed up.
However, Ultium has 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.
“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.”
However, Ultium previously indicated a willingness to recognize the majority of the workers based on authorization cards, the union said.
“A majority of Ultium workers have signed cards authorizing the UAW to represent them,” said UAW President Ray Curry. “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.”
Over several months, the company participated in meetings and discussions with the UAW about a process for certifying the UAW’s majority status without going through an NLRB election, the UAW said.
“Despite the UAW engaging in good faith discussions, it is clear now that the company’s strategy was to delay and deny workers union representation for as long as possible,” said Region 2B Director Wayne Blanchard. “The UAW filed the petition today so workers can get on with forming their union without any further delay.”
In September, workers at Ultium authorized the potential use of a strike to pressure the company to recognize the UAW. About 94% of those who voted approved the strike measure.
“We had hoped Ultium would have done the right thing so we can get on with the business of bargaining and addressing the serious health and safety issues in the plant,” said George Goranitis, a lead in the electrode department.
Workers at Ultium, a joint venture between General Motors Co. and LG Energy Solution, are not covered under the UAW collective bargaining agreement with GM.
In August, Ultium began producing battery cells that will be used in GM’s new electric-vehicle lineup. The Lordstown plant is the first of three Ultium plants under development in the country to begin production.
Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.