Workers at a General Motors-LG Energy battery cell factory in near Cleveland, Ohio voted to join the United Auto Workers (UAW), the union and the joint venture said Friday.
The UAW said hourly employees at the Ultium Cells LLC plant near Cleveland had voted overwhelmingly, 710 to 16, in favor of joining the labor union.
Ultium said it respected the vote, adding, “We look forward to a positive working relationship with the UAW.”
Last week, GM CEO Mary Barra expressed support for unionizing the Ohio plant. On Thursday she added that union workers and leaders at the UAW also understood that GM had to be cost competitive.
The vote was a crucial test of the UAW’s ability to unionize workers in the growing electric vehicle (EV) supply chain. The Detroit “Big Three” automakers—GM, Ford and Chrysler—all have battery plants in the works with South Korean partners.
The union could face stiffer opposition at plants in southern states that are less unionized than Ohio.
GM and LG Energy are considering an Indiana site for a fourth U.S. battery plant. They are already building a $2.6 billion plant in Michigan, which scheduled to open in 2024. Last week, Ultium said it would boost its planned investment in a $2.3 billion Tennessee plant by another $275 million.
In July, the Department of Energy said it intended to lend Ultium $2.5 billion to help finance new manufacturing facilities. Sources told Reuters, that loan could be finalized as early as next week.