Image Source: Scott Dexter via Flickr

Over the weekend, the United Auto Workers (UAW) Union ratified a new labor deal for workers at Ultium Cells’ electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in Lordstown, Ohio. This development marks another significant step in efforts to unionize EV and EV battery factories.

The agreement will serve nearly 1,600 workers and gives most employees a 30 percent raise over three years. Other benefits include a $3,000 ratification bonus, time and a half pay for shifts that exceed 10 hours, and new positions for health- and safety-focused staff. Most workers will also see an immediate raise of $3.59 per hour.

Not only is this part of the UAW’s renewed efforts to unionize the rapidly growing EV and EV battery plants, but this is the first time the union has scored a local contract for U.S. EV battery workers. According to UAW President Shawn Fain, “This agreement is a gamechanger for the electric vehicle battery industry and for the future of Lordstown and towns like it all across this country.”

This is not the first victory the UAW has achieved this year. In April, employees at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant, which began producing the company’s first all-electric SUV, the ID.4, in July 2022, voted to join the UAW by a significant margin. The results reflect growing confidence in the union’s new leadership under Fain as workers at the Tennessee plant have rejected unionization twice in the past. The new contracts will increase union wages by one-third.

In May however, the UAW suffered a setback in Alabama. At two Mercedes-Benz factories near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the company will invest billions to produce both lithium-ion batteries and two of the company’s electric SUV models. In the end, 56 percent of workers voted against unionization.

This defeat came after Republican governors from six Southern states issued a joint statement opposing the UAW’s campaign efforts in the south. The statement reads: “We the governors of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas are highly concerned about the unionization campaign driven by misinformation and scare tactics that the UAW has brought into our states. As governors, we have a responsibility to our constituents to speak up when we see special interests looking to come into our state and threaten our jobs and the values we live by.”

The United States, and the Southeast in particular, has been a hub for EV manufacturing investment in recent years. To date, automakers have announced  nearly $196 billion for EV and EV battery supply chain manufacturing in the U.S., which is poised to create over 230,000 jobs.

For more on domestic EV manufacturing investment, job creation, and union status, visit the EV Jobs Hub.

About the author: Moe Khatib