The reason is that GM accepted the new EV battery plants (three of them within Ultium Cells in Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan in co-operation with LG Energy, one in Indiana with Samsung SDI) are to be brought into the union fold. This will allow workers at the plants to be covered by union contracts.
A Ford official said the company and UAW negotiators had been working to resolve differences on retirement security and union representation at the company’s future battery plants. Separately, BlueOval SK, Ford’s battery joint venture with South Korea’s SK On said on 11 October it would offer higher wages for some workers at its plants in Tennessee and Kentucky, ranging from $24 to $37.50 per hour based on experience. It did not give details of previous wages.
UWA chair Shawn Fain added that progress had been made with Stellantis, but that there were “gaps that still need to be closed”. It is unclear how the conflict will affect the two EV battery plants owned by Stellantis, scheduled to be opened in Kokomo Indiana in 2025 and 2027 in a joint venture with Samsung SDI of South Korea.
Analysts said Ford and Stellantis probably do not want to pay top union wages, fearing that will push up their costs over Tesla and other competitors with non-union battery plants, mainly in the south of the US.
Ford has decided to locate three of its four proposed battery plants in Kentucky and Tennessee. The company has put on hold a fourth plant to be built in Michigan.