General Motors agreed on Friday to include its joint-venture battery plants into the master plan with the UAW, which is likely to have far-reaching implications on the U.S. auto industry as it moves ahead with the electric vehicle transition.
The concession came just minutes before a Friday 2pm union livestream that may have prevented workers at GM’s full-size SUV plant in Arlington, Texas, from heading to the picket line — which would have been a major financial blow to the company.
GM and LG Energy Solution are partnering on three joint-venture Ultium battery plants. The only one constructed and operating is in Warren in northeast Ohio, near where GM closed its Lordstown Assembly plant in 2019. Workers at the Ultium plant overwhelmingly voted in favor of organizing with the UAW in December 2022 with their biggest concerns being wage increases and health/safety issues at the plant.
A deal struck in August between Ultium and the UAW raised the starting rate for production operators to $20 per hour from $16.50. The UAW and Ultium still were negotiating an inaugural contract during Friday’s announcement. Ultium plant workers still are trailing the $32.32 per hour a senior traditional GM employee makes under the contract that expired on Sept. 14.