FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 24, 2022
NEXT-GEN BATTERY MAKER SPARKZ, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA ANNOUNCE LABOR-MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT
The “memorandum of understanding” is the first step toward establishing one of the largest climate-tech workforce partnerships in US history
CHARLESTON, W.Va.–SPARKZ, the next-generation battery manufacturer re-engineering the battery supply chain, and the United Mine Workers of America announced today they have signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a labor-management agreement that would mark one of the largest climate-tech union workforce partnerships in the United States.
SPARKZ announced in March it will begin construction in 2022 of a Gigafactory in West Virginia to commercialize their zero-cobalt battery which will initially employ 350 workers and could grow to as many as 3,000.
“SPARKZ is proud to partner with the United Mine Workers of America to help West Virginia workers become part of the new energy economy while re-engineering the battery supply chain domestically,” said SPARKZ founder and CEO Sanjiv Malhotra. “This partnership is a symbol of American innovation and American workers literally building our energy future together and fighting to end China’s dominance of advanced batteries.”
SPARKZ and the United Mine Workers of America will partner to recruit and train dislocated miners to be the first group of production workers to be hired into the facility. SPARKZ will be focused on creating a strong and diverse workforce capable of competing against foreign batteries made in China and securing the supply chain.
“This agreement is a win-win for the laid-off coal miners who will work in this facility, their families and their communities,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “We have lost thousands of mining jobs over the last decade in West Virginia. This is a first step to putting some of those people back to work in good, well-paying, family-sustaining jobs. We look forward to working with SPARKZ to build on this initiative as traditional energy workers meet the challenges of the ongoing energy transition.”
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who serves as Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and was part of the initial announcement of the SPARKZ facility located in West Virginia, said, “For generations, West Virginia’s brave coal miners have powered our nation to greatness and partnerships like the one between the SPARKZ and the United Mine Workers of America is proof that there is an important role for them to play in our nation’s energy transition. You will not find a harder worker than a coal miner and I am confident this partnership will serve SPARKZ well as they continue to invest in West Virginia and climate technologies that enable us to reduce our reliance on foreign supply chains.”
“DOE is thrilled to support the battery manufacturing industry and labor partners coming together to solve clean energy deployment challenges, like workforce development,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Momentum is building as more companies see that partnering with labor is smart business strategy and key to accelerating an equitable clean energy transition.”
Founded by industry veteran and former U.S. Department of Energy executive Sanjiv Malhotra, SPARKZ will begin commercialization of a high energy-density Cobalt-free, American-made Lithium-ion battery, while continuing its groundbreaking research and development focused on re-engineering the rest of the battery supply chain.
The company’s first commercial product will eliminate cobalt, traditionally used in the cathode of a Lithium-ion battery, with the objective of reducing the cost of lithium battery production in the U.S., while also eliminating a primary environmental concern, and reducing chokepoints created by a foreign supply-chain. SPARKZ will be announcing its customer and OEM partnerships soon.
SPARKZ was founded in late 2019 and has been in innovation mode. SPARKZ has completed the transfer of 6 patents from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which continues to be an R&D partner. In addition to being 100% cobalt-free, the patents also reduce production time significantly and enhance battery performance.
About the UMWA
The United Mine Workers of America was founded in 1890 and remains North America’s largest union representing coal miners. The UMWA also represents manufacturing workers, health care workers, public employees, public safety officers, clean coal technicians, and more.
“Preserving Coal Country,” the UMWA’s Principles for the Energy Transition, was released in April 2021, and includes specific language regarding the need to bring quality, high-paying next-generation energy jobs to the coal-producing areas of the country to revitalize communities that have been devastated by the rapid decline in coal production and employment. The partnership the UMWA has developed with SPARKZ helps to meet that goal. The UMWA’s document can be found here.