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Employees at E.V. Battery Plant in Ohio Vote to Unionize

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It’s less clear how successful the union will likely be at organizing other latest electric vehicle plants, corresponding to an Ultium facility being inbuilt Tennessee or three factories being built jointly by Ford and the South Korean battery maker SK Innovation in Kentucky and Tennessee, where the political culture is less hospitable to unions. Battery packs, which might cost around $15,000, are by far the most costly component of an electrical vehicle powertrain, the important thing parts and systems that power a automobile.

The duty could also be even taller at plants owned solely by foreign manufacturers, corresponding to an SK battery plant in Georgia or an enormous plant that Hyundai is constructing within the state. The union has for many years struggled to prepare so-called transplant facilities owned by foreign automakers within the South.

Employees on the Ultium plant in Ohio, which began production this yr, cited pay and issues of safety as key reasons for unionizing. Dominic Giovannone, who helps fabricate battery cells, said he was now making about $16.50 per hour — a roughly $8 pay cut from his job at a plastic bag factory. He said the Ultium job attracted him since the plant was far closer to his home than his previous job had been.

An Ultium spokeswoman said that hourly pay for rank-and-file employees ranged from $15 to $22 depending on experience and skills, and that the corporate paid a quarterly bonus and provided advantages as soon as employment began.

Mr. Giovannone said that while the health care advantages were “phenomenal,” he wished the 401(k) match were more generous. He also said employees in his department were incessantly required to handle harsh chemicals without enough information from the corporate to make sure that they did so safely.

The dearth of specific guidance on chemicals “is an enormous concern within the plant,” he said, adding that supervisors had not been very responsive when he and his co-workers prodded them on the problem.

Ethan Surgenavic, a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning specialist on the plant, whose department is accountable for indoor conditions corresponding to keeping humidity extremely low around certain components, said he, too, had taken a big pay cut to work there. He now makes $29 per hour, down from about $42, but he said the job also substantially reduced his commute.

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