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DETROIT (Reuters) -A top executive of General Motors Co on Tuesday expressed strong support for efforts by the United Auto Workers union to organize U.S. electric vehicle battery plants it is building with a partner, but stopped short of endorsing unionization without a formal worker vote.
"We are supportive of the UAW, we are partners with the UAW. We believe there has been good that has come out of that partnership and that good is transferrable to other operations," GM executive vice president Gerald Johnson said during a briefing for reporters about broader efforts by the company to expand its environmental, social and governance efforts.
Johnson said the decision to join a union should be up to workers, but he did not endorse a so-called "card check" organization that bypasses a secret ballot vote.
The UAW can "make their case without interruption and with complete neutrality" from the automaker, Johnson said.
"We expect we will work together with the UAW going forward in these sites," he said.
GM said on Tuesday it is establishing a $25 million fund to provide grants to community organizations to help promote adoption of electric vehicles.
In April, outgoing UAW President Rory Gamble called on GM and Ford Motor Co to commit to union representation at new joint venture EV factories, and GM responded that its Ultium LLC battery facilities "are part of a joint venture and are a separate company – Ultium Cells LLC." GM's partner in that venture is South Korean EV battery maker LG Energy Solution.
In May, GM said the UAW is "well-positioned" to represent workers at the Ultium plants in Ohio and Tennessee.
U.S. President Joe Biden told automakers during a visit to Dearborn in May that they should deepen their partnership with the UAW.
(Reporting By Joe White; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)