By Nora Eckert

(Reuters) -The United Auto Workers union said on Monday it reached a tentative contract agreement with Ultium Cells in Lordstown, Ohio, where workers build electric vehicle batteries for General Motors (NYSE:).

Ultium Cells is a joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solution. Hourly workers at the Ohio plant near Cleveland, which GM previously shuttered, voted in favor of joining the union in December 2022.

UAW President Shawn Fain said the deal would raise the starting wage to $26.91 an hour, which had been $16.50 last year and was raised to $20 by the company in August.

Workers will see wages rise to $35 an hour after one year on the job by the end of the deal, the union said. The deal includes a 30% wage increase over three years for many workers, and a $3,000 ratification bonus.

As automakers pivot to producing electric vehicles (EVs), their battery plants have become a battleground for the union. UAW officials have voiced concerns about members’ job security as the industry begins rolling out more battery-powered models, and Fain has made organizing these plants a priority.

After a six-week strike last fall, the automotive union forged new labor deals with the Detroit automakers: GM, Ford Motor (NYSE:) and Jeep-maker Stellantis (NYSE:).

The deals with the Detroit Three included a 25% wage increase over the four-and-a-half year contract as well as the return of cost-of-living adjustments.

Crafting the agreement with GM brought Ultium workers under the union’s master agreement, its officials have said.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Shawn Fain, President of the United Auto Workers (UAW) speaks as U.S. President Joe Biden (not pictured) joins striking members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) on the picket line outside the GM's Willow Run Distribution Center, in Belleville, Wayne County, Michigan, U.S., September 26, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo

The 1,600 UAW members at the plant must still approve the contract.

The UAW has recently encountered significant hurdles in its organizing efforts outside of Detroit. After a historic win at a Volkswagen (ETR:) plant in Tennessee, the automotive union was defeated at a Mercedes plant in Alabama during a May vote.