Location and Union Representation: Still questions for GM battery plant here
The announcement that GM and a Korean company plan to build a $2.3 billion electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant in the Valley leaves some questions unanswered.
Exactly where the plant will be located and whether or not the 1,100 employees will be union members has yet to be decided, according to those familiar with the project.
GM and LG Chem announced on Thursday that their joint venture would build a plant to mass-produce battery cells for battery-powered vehicles manufactured by GM.
In a news release, GM would only say the plant would be built on a “greenfield site” in the Lordstown area.
State Senator Sean O'Brien, who is among local lawmakers who have been working with the state and GM to bring the plant here, told 21 News that there are three potential locations. Two of those locations are in Lordstown, and a third is within 25 miles of Lordstown.
O'Brien did not reveal the locations, saying that they have yet to go through a final process, which includes environmental concerns. Senator O'Brien noted that there might be concerns over an endangered bat at one of the Lordstown sites.
Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill told 21 News he doesn't know the sites being considered, but only knows of four locations that would have enough acreage for such a project. Those are the west side of Bailey Road north of TJX; the south end of Tod Avenue; Tod Avenue across from the power plant; or the Ohio Commerce Center.
The project is on a fast track with an anticipated groundbreaking in April, according to O'Brien, who says the package of enticements worked out with the state include tax incentives. O'Brien says Ohio was competing with Tennessee and Alabama, which were also vying for the plant.
State Representative Micheal Rulli said he and other lawmakers are committed to removing whatever roadblocks may appear in the way of the project.
In announcing the plans during a phone conference, GM CEO and Chairman Mary Barra said it would be up to the 1,100 employees of the new plant to decide if they want to belong to a union.
21 News spoke with Tim O'Hara, former president of UAW Local 1112, about the possibility of unionizing the plant.
O'Hara said it would depend not only on the workers deciding if they want to be unionized but also how accommodating the company will be in allowing organizing activities, adding that some businesses fight labor organizations.
Although the companies will have their contractors build the plant, O'Brien says he hopes they will use local subcontractors for some of the work. There has been no information so far on how many workers will be needed for construction.