UAW pushing to get EV battery plants in Michigan to unionize

UAW pushing to get EV battery plants in Michigan to unionize
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 6:02 PM EDT
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DELTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WILX) - The United Auto Workers said its future could be in doubt if it doesn’t get these plants unionized. That’s because the Big Three are making a big push for electric vehicles.

Detroit’s three automakers already announced plans for seven different battery plants across the country to power the electric vehicles they plan to build. One of those plants is in Lansing.

Read: GM gets $2.5B toward battery plants in Michigan, historic flooding in Midwest

The UAW said this kind of representation could be good for the community.

“It’s already brought in business with the construction,” said Tamara Farrell, who owns Tony M’s in Delta Township.

Farrell said a lot of people come in for a drink once they get off work at the nearby plants, including GM. With the new battery plant being built nearby, she’s excited.

“I can see it growing and making Lansing and these surrounding towns bigger,” said Farrell.

And that’s why the UAW is wanting to get workers at the battery plants to join the union.

“Mobility is mobility. It doesn’t matter if it is a battery taking a vehicle down the road or an engine,” said Cindy Estrada, UAW Vice President.

The UAW said it has more than 400,000 active members, and that number is expected to drop as companies need fewer traditional engines.

Estrada is the one in charge of trying to get plants part of the electric vehicle transition, like the one being built in Delta Township, to join the UAW.

She said the same negotiation model that’s been in place for decades should be able to translate into the next generation.

“We need to make sure the environment is healthy for our kids. But we have to make sure our communities and the workers who are doing the work are working in healthy environments too,” said Estrada.

Estrada argued current UAW labor costs wouldn’t raise the price of the battery much when applied to those plants. And she said it would still help communities like Lansing.

“There’s more disposable income. When we had higher union density, he had a higher tax base,” said Estrada.

Union representation would be decided as part of the negotiations which will start next summer. GM has already said it would support UAW representation at the Lordstown, Ohio battery plant that’s expected to open this summer.

The battery plant in Delta Township is expected to start production in two years, with about 1,700 people working there.

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