Originally appeared in the Louisville Courier Journal | July 31, 2023

As Kentucky continues its rise as the electric vehicle, EV, battery production capital of the U.S., BlueOval SK Battery Park, a joint venture between Ford Motor Company and SK On, has officially started hiring for hourly positions.

According to a release from BlueOval SK, starting wages at the plant in Glendale, Kentucky and Stanton, Tennessee will range from $21 to $29 per hour.

“People are the most important part of BlueOval SK,” BlueOval SK Human Resources Director Neva Burke said in a statement. “We want our employees to build their careers with us and make a good salary so they can live comfortably with their families.”

Along with this hourly wage, employees will also receive “two pay raises each year plus low-cost medical premiums, 401(k) matching, Ford vehicle discount benefits, vision and dental insurance” and the opportunity to earn bonuses ranging from $2,300 to $2,500 annually depending on performance.

The Glendale battery park is expected to get new hires first.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg visited the BlueOval SK Battery Park, a Ford Motor and SK On joint-venture electric vehicle battery production facility in Glendale, Kentucky on March 3, 2023.

The electric vehicle battery park in Kentucky is expected to create 5,000 new jobs in the Commonwealth. The new workers will be trained on-site at the new Elizabethtown Community and Technical College BlueOval SK Training Center, the lone co-branded learning center within the state community college system.

“Our first hires will work a standard 40-hour work week while they receive training and learn the battery manufacturing process. A formal shift will begin sometime in 2024 once employees are able to partially occupy the plants,” the release stated.

The BlueOval SK Battery Park’s ongoing construction which broke ground in December is on schedule, according to a release from BlueOval SK.

The battery park, at 1,500 acres, will be the largest in the world and will start production in 2025. It’s “the biggest economic development project this state has ever seen,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear previously said.

The battery production site will consist of two battery production plants across a more than 2.3-square-mile campus. Each production plant on the campus will employ about 2,500 people. While the goal is to hire as many Kentuckians as possible, Beshear noted that BlueOval SK will need to attract some employees from outside the state.

Ford Motor Co. is building a new BlueOvalSK Battery Park in central Kentucky consisting of twin battery plants that will power a new lineup of Ford and Lincoln electric vehicles.

The Detroit Three automakers, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler), have entered negotiations with the United Auto Workers union within the last few weeks. A point of negotiations for Ford is likely to focus on general wages and cost of living adjustments.

Ford sources said the top wage for workers is $32 per hour and a worker typically earns this wage after eight years.

The BlueOval SK Battery Park in Glendale is not part of UAW and is not unionized. The issue of pay at battery parks like this has fallen under scrutiny from Shawn Fain, president of UAW and others as the Detroit Three continue negotiations.

Ford sources said employees at the BlueOval SK Battery Park will have to decide whether to unionize or not and lead a union drive. If they were to unionize, these workers would have a separate contract from the national agreement currently being negotiated.