Ford and its joint venture partner SK On have announced an increase in wages at two planned EV battery factories in Kentucky and Tennessee. The move comes as a response to the ongoing strike by United Autoworkers (UAW) and aims to address the concerns of the striking autoworkers. However, it remains to be seen if the offer will be sufficient to resolve the strike.
Ford and its joint venture partner SK On have announced higher wages for maintenance technicians at their planned EV battery factories in Kentucky and Tennessee. This move comes amidst the ongoing strike by United Autoworkers, as the UAW seeks to secure better wages and greater job security for its members. The inclusion of joint venture EV battery plants in the four-year master agreement with automakers remains a crucial point of contention in the negotiations.
Higher Wages for Maintenance Technicians
The joint venture, known as BlueOval SK, has stated that it will offer higher wages for maintenance technicians and associate maintenance technicians at the battery plants. The wages will range from $24 to $37.50 per hour, depending on the level of experience. These positions are currently available at the BlueOval SK plants in Stanton, Tennessee and Glendale, Kentucky.
BlueOval SK has conducted a comprehensive wage and benefit benchmarking study to determine the appropriate pay and benefits for its employees. In addition to the increased wages, hourly employees will also be eligible for regular pay increases every six months. Furthermore, they will have the opportunity to receive annual bonuses of up to 5% based on their position and performance.
“These new, higher wages are more competitive and in line with the current market,” said Neva McGruder Burke, the Human Resources Director at BlueOval SK, in a statement.
UAW Strike and Negotiations
The United Autoworkers have been engaged in negotiations with automakers GM, Ford, and Stellantis. As part of the negotiations, the UAW has been advocating for wage increases, guaranteed cost of living adjustments, and improved status for temporary employees. They have also been pushing for inclusion of present and future joint venture EV battery plants in the four-year master agreement with the automakers.
The UAW recently reached a deal with GM, which agreed to include electric vehicle battery production work in the union’s national master agreement with the company. UAW President Shawn Fain expressed satisfaction with the outcome, stating that it showed the UAW’s plan to prioritize the interests of its members and prevent the replacement of higher-paying engine and transmission jobs with lower-wage battery jobs.
However, a deal with Ford and Stellantis has not yet been reached, and the inclusion of joint venture EV battery plants remains a sticking point. The UAW expanded its strike to include Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant after deeming the automaker’s offer to be unacceptable. The UAW believes that their plan, which has been successful at GM, will also prevail at Ford and Stellantis.