Employees at BYD Motors Inc. in Lancaster voted to recognize the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers as their representative in negotiations with the company.

The vote is among the first steps toward unionizing the workers at the electric vehicle manufacturing plant in the Antelope Valley.

BYD America President Stella Li said that the vote affirms for its employees that working for BYD should be a career and not just a job.

“We’re proud to have a strong and healthy relationship with organized labor in our community and look to continue this positive relationship for many years to come,” Li said in a prepared statement.

BYD Motors is the U.S. subsidiary of Chinese electric vehicle and battery manufacturer BYD Co. Ltd. Its Lancaster facility opened in 2013 and now employs more than 400 workers.

Last year, the company broke ground on an expansion of its plant, which is expected to be completed this year and adds tens of thousands of square feet to the existing facility.