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Ohio workers vote to unionize GM, LG battery plant

WASHINGTON, In a significant victory for the United Auto Workers’ efforts to organize the expanding electric car supply chain, workers at a General Motors-LG Energy (GM.N), (373220. KS) battery cell factory in northeast Ohio voted decisively to join the union.

According to the National Labor Relations Board, hourly workers at the Ultium Cells LLC plant in the Cleveland area supported unionization by a vote of 710 to 16.

According to Ultium’s statement, the company values “support for UAW representation from our Ohio workers is reflected in this vote. We want to have a productive partnership with the UAW.”

The vote was a major test of the United Auto Workers’ capacity to unite factories that produce components for electric automobiles. All three of the Detroit Three automakers are now in the planning stages of building battery factories with partners in South Korea.

Southern states are less unionized than Ohio so that the UAW may meet more resistance at plants there.

After receiving authorization cards signed by the majority of workers at the Ohio facility in October, the UAW filed a petition seeking to represent its approximately 900 members.

UAW President Ray Curry stated on Friday that “new workers entering the auto sector at companies like Ultium are thinking about their value and worth” as the industry shifts to electric vehicles. This vote demonstrates a desire to help preserve the gains in quality and pay that UAW workers have made in the auto sector.

On Friday, President Joe Biden congratulated the American workers at the joint venture battery facilities they had been trying to unionize since May when Biden was in South Korea.

This is how we bring our supply chains home,” Biden remarked, referring to the jobs created by the production of electric car batteries and semiconductors.

The Ohio plant started producing batteries in August; it is the first of at least four planned Ultium battery facilities in the United States.

General Motors and LG Energy are looking into a potential location in Indiana for their fourth battery facility in the United States. The $2.6 billion factory is scheduled to open in Michigan in 2024. Ultium announced last week that it would add $275 million to its original plan to invest in a $2.3 billion Tennessee factory.

The U.S. Department of Energy said in July that it would lend $2.5 billion to Ultium to help fund the construction of new production facilities. Reuters was told by credible sources that the loan’s closure might come as soon as next week.

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, has spoken out in favor of unionizing the Ohio facility. Barra told reporters on Thursday that “I don’t think it’s a predetermined conclusion that if you’re union you’re more expensive” if Ohio workers voted in favor of a union.


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