Workers at Ultium Cells voted 895 to 22 over the weekend to ratify an interim agreement between the United Auto Workers and the battery manufacturer to immediately raise wages by roughly 25%, or by $3 to $4 per hour, according to the UAW.
As a result, hundreds of workers at the electric vehicle battery plant in Ohio will receive thousands of dollars in back pay. Employees who have worked at the company since Dec. 23, 2022, will receive payments of $3,000 to $7,000, based on the number of hours worked, Ultium said in a statement.
“UAW members at Ultium are proving that we can raise standards at the electric vehicle facilities coming on line across America,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a statement. “This agreement is an important step forward, but it’s only the first step. We will keep fighting at Ultium and all EV plants to win the same strong pay and safety standards that generations of autoworkers have won at [General Motors], Ford and Stellantis.”
The UAW organized roughly 900 workers at the Ohio factory in October after most employees signed cards allowing the union to represent them, Reuters reported last year. The workers unionized to address “serious health and safety concerns and poverty wages” at the factory, according to the UAW.
On Dec. 9, 2022, hourly workers at Ultium Cells voted 710 to 16 to join the UAW.
Before the new agreement with the UAW, starting wages at the Ultium Cells factory were $16.50 per hour, according to a UAW white paper. With incremental raises, workers could make up to $20 per hour after seven years of employment. According to the Detroit News, the new agreement bumps starting pay for production operators to $20 an hour, with a $1 increase to $21 after six months or 1,000 hours worked. The UAW is still negotiating a final contract for workers at Ultium Cells after the pay raises.
“We continue to bargain in good faith with the UAW and are committed to reaching an agreement on a comprehensive contract for our employees, including a final wage scale,” Ultium Cells said.
Ultium Cells is a joint venture between GM and its battery partner LG Chem, announced in January 2020. The two companies agreed to invest up to $2.3 billion to mass-produce battery cells for future GM EVs. The company expects to qualify for more than $1 billion a year in federal tax credits once the plant is operating at maximum capacity, according to the UAW.
In April 2021, Ultium Cells said it would invest another $2.3 billion to build a second battery cell manufacturing plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee.