Ford and its joint venture partner, SK On, are making efforts to address the concerns of striking autoworkers at two upcoming electric vehicle (EV) battery factories in Kentucky and Tennessee by increasing wages. However, the resolution might not be straightforward.
The joint venture, known as BlueOval SK, has unveiled its proposal for higher wages, specifically targeting maintenance technicians and associate maintenance technicians. Their compensation will now range from $24 to $37.50 per hour based on experience. These positions are currently available at BlueOval SK battery plants in Stanton, Tennessee, and Glendale, Kentucky. In determining employee pay and benefits, BlueOval SK conducted a comprehensive wage and benefit benchmarking study. Additionally, it has announced that hourly employees will be eligible for regular pay increases every six months and can qualify for annual bonuses of up to 5% based on their position and performance.
According to Neva McGruder Burke, BlueOval SK's Human Resources Director, "These new, higher wages are more competitive and in line with the current market."
The United Autoworkers (UAW) union is inching closer to reaching an agreement with major automakers, including GM, Ford, and Stellantis. This progress includes wage increases ranging from 20% to 23%, guaranteed cost of living adjustments, and a faster path for temporary employees to gain full-time status, which has been a key point of contention. However, a significant outstanding issue is the UAW's insistence that the four-year master agreement with automakers also includes present and future joint venture EV battery plants.
GM has already agreed to this condition, but it remains a point of contention with Ford and Stellantis. According to UAW President Shawn Fain, "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... 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 to win at GM. And we expect it to win at Ford and Stellantis as well."
As of now, the UAW has not responded to requests for comment on this matter.