US employees threaten to raise wages for Korean battery manufacturers

Ultium Cells LLC workers, a joint venture between General Motors Co. and LG Energy Solution Ltd., advocate for a substantial salary increase in Korea. Other unionized laborers will join them in their battle against Korean corporations establishing multi-billion dollar facilities nationwide. US media sites have reported that this month, Ultium Cells’ unionized personnel will engage in their first official talks with the management team. Furthermore, recent accounts have suggested that the labor union is hoping for a rise from the current hourly salaries of either $15.50 or $16.50, depending on the position, to $32 per hour.

According to the union, that would equate their salary to the average hourly wage of $32 typically earned by those employed in traditional auto assembly. The United Auto Workers (UAW), one of the biggest industrial unions in the US, is a member, as is the Ultium Cells labor organization. The UAW intends to organize unions at Ultium Cells’ second and third facilities. It also represents autoworkers at Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis N.V., which are the automakers where Korean battery manufacturers have set up joint ventures or want to do so in order to build batteries for electric vehicles in the United States. One of three major Korean manufacturers of EV batteries, SK on, and Ford have a joint venture called BlueOval SK.

In October, the venture began constructing the initial and second Electric Vehicle battery factories in Kentucky. Soon, it will also start building a facility in Tennessee. An EV battery factory will be built in Indiana thanks to a partnership between Samsung SDI and Stellantis. In order to construct a facility in North America, the auto giant also partnered with LG Energy Solution, the biggest producer of EV batteries in Korea.

Industry insiders predict that employees at those joint ventures for EV batteries will also form unions for collective bargaining, particularly salary negotiating. According to Cho Hyun-ryeol, an analyst at Samsung Securities, factory worker compensation is increasing quickly in the US due to a labor shortage. Korean companies establishing joint ventures in the US should aim to increase automation to reduce operating costs, Cho advised.

Seven out of ten people in Korea are positive about their country joining the G5

According to a survey released on Sunday, seven out of ten South Koreans believe their nation might join the Group of Five (G5) nations’ club over the next ten years. A study of 1,000 people in Korea on their views on Korea joining the G5 was performed by pollster Mono Research at the request of the Maeil Business Journal, and 50.7 percent of the respondents were “extremely optimistic.” More than 20 percent of respondents indicated that they were “quite hopeful,” which indicates that seven out of ten individuals had a favorable opinion about Korea joining the G5. About nine out of ten of those polled predicted that Korea would gain international prominence within ten years. According to a separate analysis by Maeil Business Newspaper and the Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI), if Korea could raise total factor productivity (TFP) growth to Taiwan’s level (3.6 percent) in the upcoming 10 years, up from the current annual level of 1 percent, it could surpass France’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2035 and Japan’s in 2039. As Korea reaches the G5 average for foreign direct investment and economically engaged people, the likelihood could increase even further.

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