Ultium Reaches Deal with UAW to Increase Pay for Workers

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – Ultium Cells LLC announced late Thursday that it has reached an agreement with the United Auto Workers that calls for across-the-board interim wage increases for hourly employees. 

The agreement is subject to ratification by the union membership, said Katie Burdette, spokeswoman for Ultium. Should the agreement be ratified, all Ultium-Ohio hourly employees’ wages will be increased by an average of 25%, she said.

The vote is expected to conclude Aug 27.

“Providing this wage increase is the right thing to do for our team members, all of whom contribute so much to Ultium Cells’ growth and success,” Burdette said in a statement.

The interim wage increase will be retroactive, and current hourly employees will receive back pay for every hour worked since Dec. 23, 2022, the statement said. Any current employee who has worked since Dec. 23 would receive payment of between $3,000 and $7,000, based on hours worked.

“This is just a first step,” Ultium said. “We continue to bargain in good faith with the UAW to reach a comprehensive contract for our employees, including a final wage scale.”

Josh Ayers, UAW Local 1112 chairman, agreed that the wage increase is a first step toward a comprehensive collective bargaining agreement with the company.

“The UAW Local 1112 members working at Ultium Cells deserve this increase for being essential in getting the plant up and running,” he said in a statement Thursday.

“While an entire ‘first’ agreement is being negotiated, the committee is still hard at work in bargaining working conditions, health and safety, seniority rights, addressing other issues raised by the membership and future wage increases throughout the term of this agreement.”

The UAW has voiced its concern over workers handling hazardous materials at the plant. 

“This agreement is a significant and meaningful step as we continue to negotiate collaboratively and in good faith with the UAW to reach a comprehensive contract,” said Kareem Maine, Ultium-Ohio’s plant director. “Our team members are at the core of our business, and we’re proud to be able to reach an interim agreement for wage increases that prioritizes our incredible workforce.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, applauded the agreement in a statement.

“Ultium’s success hinges on these skilled workers’ historic expertise in the auto industry,” Brown said. “Today’s announcement means more money in Lordstown workers’ pockets, and is a step in the right direction toward securing a full union contract that will serve as the gold standard for the entire EV industry. We’ve been clear all along: The cars of the future will be made in Ohio, by union workers, and we’ll settle for nothing less.”

Brown has agitated for the Big Three automakers to fold workers at affiliated electric-vehicle battery joint ventures into national bargaining negotiations underway with the UAW. 

Ultium is a separate joint venture between General Motors and Korea-based LG Energy Solution, and the company said it is doubtful that its workers could be represented by the national agreement.

Workers in December voted overwhelmingly to join the UAW after a two-day election was held at the Lordstown plant.

“Our Ultium Cells’ workforce is the foundation of a dynamic new industry that is transforming American transportation,” Ultium’s Burdette said in the company’s statement. “Ultium Cells-Ohio is proud to be the only operational union-organized battery cell facility in the U.S.”

Pictured at top: Photo by Gene J. Puskar (Associated Press)

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.