LORDSTOWN – Talks between the United Auto Workers and Ultium Cells appear to be underway in the union’s attempt to organize workers at the electric auto parts maker’s new Lordstown plant.
“We believe that when a majority of workers in a workplace decide to form their union, the employer should respect that decision and recognize their union through neutrality and card checking,” UAW spokeswoman Sandra Engle wrote in an email on Thursday. “That is the foundation of our ongoing discussions with General Motors, Ultium and other employers in our industries.”
Engle declined to comment further.
Reports this week say some workers have said they won’t show up for work until Ultium Cells recognizes them as a union. It has called for a strike for recognition and today could be the deadline the company was given to recognize the union.
UAW Local 1112 President Darwin Cooper did not return a message on Wednesday seeking comment and declined to comment Thursday.
According to a statement from the company Wednesday, Ultium Cells “respects workers’ right to associate and the efforts of the UAW or any other union to organize battery cell manufacturing workers at our manufacturing sites.
“Ultium Cells intends to comply with the National Labor Relations Act, which protects the right of our employees to decide the issue of union representation through a voluntary democratic election conducted by the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board).”
Local 1112 was once a powerhouse in the Mahoning Valley, representing thousands of workers at the former General Motors assembly complex in Lordstown. When GM closed the plant in 2019, it still numbered about 1,200, but those numbers quickly faded with workers taking jobs at GM plants elsewhere.
Now, more than three years later, the local still exists – but is a shell of its once robust self.
In June, the UAW claimed the company “downright rejected” a proposed card-cheque agreement for factory workers. Such an agreement would have allowed the UAW access to the factory to collect cards, a move to organize employee interest.
Subsequently, a spokeswoman for Ultium Cells, Brooke Waid, said the company was in some initial talks about a neutrality agreement that would allow card checking at the Lordstown plant. Under a neutrality agreement, the employer agrees to remain neutral in all trade union workers’ organization efforts.