LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ultium Cells workers talked to Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown Monday about safety concerns at the Lordstown plant.

It’s the first time since the battery plant opened that workers talked publicly about their concerns.

“There’s a lot going on over there. A lot of things that a lot of people don’t see, depending on what side of the plant you are on,” said Tricia Brown, an Ultium Cells employee.

About a dozen workers took part in a roundtable discussion with Brown, which came just a day after workers were to start receiving a $5 to 46 increase per hour in pay, thanks to a new UAW agreement.

“Our members are gonna receive well-deserved, financial relief from the poverty wages they were making,” said UAW Region 2-B Director Dave Green.

But workers, many of whom had jobs at the old GM complex complain safety is their biggest issue.

“They give a QR code, but when I don’t have a phone signal to scan and tell me what I’m supposed to look for, how do I know what I am supposed to look for?” Ethan Surgenavic said, an employee at Ultium Cells.

Complicating matters, workers claim the joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solution creates language and communication issues, especially when containers are inscribed with Korean instructions.

Union leaders claim a lot has happened to General Motors since it went into and then emerged from bankruptcy. They claim none of it helps the employees here in the Valley.

“Corporate profits, corporate greed. They’re more worried about the bottom line than human people,” Green said.

“GM is using this Korean partner as a way to say, Well, we can’t pay these wages or we can’t work on safety,'” Brown said.

Brown and union leaders say they’ll continue to press Ultium on safety issues as well as bring wages more in line with what other UAW workers are being paid around the country.

Employees put out a small fire at the plant in June and then in July, two workers went to the hospital following concerns of a chemical exposure, however, Ultium Cells managers said air samples were taken and were within safe levels. OSHA opened a new investigation this week into Ultium Cells over a complaint about safety and health concerns. OSHA has looked into 11 complaints at the plant since 2021.

Patty Coller contributed to this report.