Ultium Cells LLC operates as a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution. The two companies are currently building battery cells and packs for the GMC Hummer EV, the Chevrolet Blazer EV, and the Cadillac Lyriq. By the next year, the list of Ultium-powered EVs on the road will multiply even further.
Within the venture, there have been disputes regarding employee wages and working conditions. The starting hourly pay at the plant is currently $16.50. As for the conditions, the UAW's boss, Shawn Fain, said there was employee exposure to non-OSHA-regulated chemicals. Fain added that there were reports of "employees [that] are getting sick and passing out."
In negotiations with Ultium Cell LLC leaders, Fain and the UAW reached a preliminary pay increase deal. The deal consists of around a 25% wage increase across all hourly working positions at the plant. This now means the starting pay now is around $20.50 an hour.
It's vital to note that the potential pay increase will be post-factum from December 23, 2022. If an employee has been working from that point, he or she will receive compensation. According to the Detroit Free Press, this compensation can range anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000.
While still set to be voted upon this weekend, the UAW sees this as a stride towards increasing working conditions and salaries at the Ultium manufacturing facilities.
Josh Ayers, a local chairman of the UAW, said, "While an entire 'first' agreement is being negotiated, the committee is still hard at work in bargaining working conditions, health and safety, seniority rights, addressing other issues raised by the membership and future wage increases throughout the term of this agreement."