General Motors Ultium battery plant recently had some issues arise leading to concerns over the safety of union workers at the plant. In June of this year, a defective battery caught on fire. At the factory in Lordstown, Ohio, the employees were luckily quick to react and got the fire put out before any incredibly bad damage or injuries occurred. With that said, two employees of the plant were hospitalized due to smoke inhalation. This occurrence has raised concerns regarding the safety of those working closely with the batteries.
This incident occurs amid negotiations for a new labor contract between the United Auto Workers and General Motors.
The President of the union, Shawn Fain, released a statement that their ongoing negotiations have more to do than just the low pay, but also the dangers the jobs entail. With their new contracts, the union hopes to move towards an industry that will put workers in the electric vehicle handling jobs first.
The defective battery that caught fire is also not the only incident that has occurred at the plant putting workers’ safety at risk. There have been multiple recorded accidents of varying degrees, but each putting workers at risk. Because of all of the issues that have been going on, the union added demands for more precautions to be put into place.
These negotiations are starting to spread to other companies beyond General Motors, as the United States as a whole is pushing toward being a more electric-focused country. As more companies move toward developing their electric vehicles, they will need more employees, something they can only get when people are attracted to the industry. The incidents in the General Motors plant have made the positions look less attractive, so many are having to reconsider some safety measures they have in place.
A spokesperson from Ultium has said in a released statement that “safety is a top priority [of theirs] each day.”
He did continue on to say that they have now added four union member positions to the staff of the plant in which they are there to monitor as safety representatives. They are still continuing their discussions with the United Auto Workers Union and General Motors.
With all of the negotiations going on, a financial analyst has conducted an analysis of the auto industry. His results show that if the new demands are met, we will see a labor cost increase of about 30%, meaning the cost of the vehicles will ultimately increase as well.