Reaction to UAW demands, what it could mean for Ultium plant
"All the bargaining committees are busting their a**es for the membership," said UAW international president Shawn Fain,, taking to Facebook this week for the opening salvo in what are sure to be intense negotiations with the 'Big Three' automakers. The current master contract expires in six weeks.
Unlike past negotiations, the union went public with its list of demands - insisting the companies can afford to meet them.
They include eliminating tiered wages and benefits, big wage hikes for workers and retirees, the right to strike over plant closures, and more paid time off.
"It's a starting point," says CNBC auto analyst Phil LeBeau. As ambitious as the list sounds, he says it's not unprecedented. He compared it to political negotiations in Washington.
"They won't get all of this," said LeBeau. "It never does happen when it comes to the UAW negotiations. They're going to get some of what they're looking for, but they're not going to get everything."
One thing the UAW wants is for the Ultium battery plant in Lordstown to be part of this new master agreement.
But Ultium involves two companies - GM and LG Chem.
"The union wants those operations to be part of the company itself, not a joint venture," says John McElroy, host of 'Autoline'. "Legally the car companies may not have a whole lot they can do about it."
"LG on its face is not on its face a huge anti-union company, and they've actually had pretty decent relations with their unions in South Korea," added Art Wheaton, director of labor studies at Cornell University.
Whether that will be the case here in The States remains to be seen.
However, late Wednesday afternoon, 21 News obtained a letter from Alex Eom, acting president of Ultium Cells, to US Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. It said in part "Very recently, the UAW has suggested that Ultium Cells-Ohio be 'rolled into' the General Motors National Agreement. Ultium Cells does not see a viable legal or practical path to place Ultium Cells-Ohio into the General Motors National Agreement. Ultium Cells is a separate legal entity and independent employer from GM or LGES."