Ford’s joint EV battery venture increases wages at planned factories amid UAW strike

Ford and its joint venture partner SK On will increase wages at two planned EV battery factories in Kentucky and Tennessee in an effort to assuage striking autoworkers. That offer might not be enough.

The joint venture, known as BlueOval SK, said it’s offering higher wages for maintenance technicians and associate maintenance technicians, ranging from $24 to $37.50 per hour based on experience. These jobs are available now at BlueOval SK battery plants in Stanton, Tennessee and Glendale, Kentucky. BlueOval SK said it conducted a wage and benefit benchmarking study to determine employee pay and benefits. BlueOvalSK also said hourly employees will be eligible to receive regular pay increases every six months and will be eligible for bonuses up to 5% annually based on position and performance.

“These new, higher wages are more competitive and in line with the current market,” BlueOval SK Human Resources Director Neva McGruder Burke said in a statement.

The United Autoworkers have inched closer to a deal with automakers GM, Ford and Stellantis, gaining wage increases between 20% and 23%, guaranteed cost of living adjustments and even securing a faster path for temporary employees to gain full-time status — a key sticking point. The UAW did expand its strike Monday to include Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant after stating that the automaker “came to the table with the same offer they submitted to us two weeks ago. It was an unacceptable move that triggered a strong and immediate response.”

One of the last remaining issues holding up a deal is a biggie: The UAW wants the four-year master agreement with automakers to include present and future joint venture EV battery plants.

It’s a concession that the UAW has already won from GM. UAW President Shawn Fain announced last week that GM agreed to include electric vehicle battery production work in the union’s national master agreement with the company.

“We have been told for months this is impossible. We have been told the EV future must be a race to the bottom. We called their bluff,” Fain said October 6 in a video that was broadcast live on Facebook. “What this will mean for our membership cannot be understated. The plan was to draw down engine and transmission plants, and permanently replace them with low-wage battery jobs. We had a different plan. And our plan is winning at GM. And we expect it to win at Ford and Stellantis as well.”

UAW did not respond to requests for comment.

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