UAW Ultium workers in Lordstown, Ohio

UAW Local 1112 workers at the Ultium Cells plant in Lordstown, Ohio hold a banner calling for "good, safe jobs" in this photo posted to social media on August 24, 2023.

(Photo: United Auto Workers)

'UAW All the Way': Ohio EV Plant Workers Hail Historic Contract Victory

One Ultium worker said the new contract—under which production workers will get $35 by late 2027—"enables me to just go ahead and move forward in life rather than living from paycheck to paycheck."

United Auto Workers members at an Ohio plant that produces battery cells for General Motors electric vehicles on Monday celebrated their overwhelming ratification of a contract that the union said "sets a new standard for the EV industry with strong wages and benefits and historic health and safety protections."

UAW Local 1112 members at Ultium Cells' Lordstown, Ohio facility approved their new local contract by 98% on Sunday. Under the contract, production workers will be paid $35 an hour by October 2027. Sunday's vote came after the workers at the plant—a joint venture between GM and South Korea-based LG Energy Solution—voted in December to unionize.

"This is setting a precedent that can be built on," said Ultium worker Chris Wyatt. "This is a guideline that every other EV plant can follow through with."

Another worker at the plant, Donald Bevly, said the new contract "enables me to just go ahead and move forward in life rather than living from paycheck to paycheck."

UAW president Shawn Fain said in a statement following the contract's tentative approval last week that "18 months ago, this company was on a low road path to poverty wages, unsafe conditions, and a dark future for battery workers in America."

"Ultium workers said, 'Hell no,' got organized, and fought back," Fain added. "Now they've more than doubled their wages by the end of this contract, won record health and safety language, and showed the world what it means to win a just transition."

As UAW noted:

When Ultium opened in 2021, the workers were nonunion, they made just $16.50 an hour, and the EV industry was in a race to the bottom. But the Ultium workers organized with the UAW in late 2022 and during the Stand Up Strike, they were brought under the GM national agreement.

In addition to $35 an hour, the new contract includes an immediate $3,000 bonus, four full-time on-site union health and safety representatives, and a full-time union industrial hygienist at the Lordstown plant.

In August 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden signed his signature climate and jobs law, the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes incentives for automakers to ramp up EV manufacturing. Fain has pressed Biden—who touts himself as the "most pro-union president in American history"—to ensure that workers can earn a decent living as part of a just transition from fossil fuel-powered to electric vehicles.

Referring to her new contract, Lordstown Ultium worker Lori Lovitz said that "the benefits are just the best benefits I've had in my life."

"Paid hospitalization, holiday pay," she added. "I've never had this many paid holidays. Job security."

Another worker at the plant, Janine Hooks, summed up her feelings about the new contract with a raised fist, saying, "UAW all the way!"

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