Alabama: Mercedes Workers Rejected Union, Setback To UAW

Alabama: Mercedes Workers Rejected Union, Setback To UAW

Workers at Mercedes-Benz’s Alabama factories have rejected a union drive, a setback to the United Auto Workers’ ambitious campaign to organize the American South, according to data revealed by US officials on Friday.

The highly watched poll, which included more than 5,000 eligible voters, mirrors a larger organizing trend among autoworkers, particularly in non-unionized facilities across the South. The UAW’s plan, led by President Shawn Fain, sought to capitalise on worker unhappiness at foreign automakers’ factories, which are recognized for their high profit margins when compared to conventional American car manufacturers.

It was the first major setback for UAW organizers following a string of triumphs, including double-digit raises for Detroit workers and the union’s expansion to a Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga last month. That leaves the union’s next measures unclear, as it is in the midst of a $40 million campaign targeting other automakers such as Toyota and Tesla.

However, allegations of unfair labor practices have muddied the process, with the UAW accusing Mercedes-Benz of disciplinary action against employees who advocated for unionization, among other things. The National Labor Relations Board is probing these charges, adding to the already complex debate over workers’ rights and corporate power.

“It was clearly damaging to the union and other organizing efforts in the short term, but it is only the beginning,” said Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He attributed the loss to worker unfamiliarity with the union and Mercedes’ response.

Workers at the Vance, Alabama, plant and a nearby battery facility voted 2,642 to 2,045 against joining the UAW, with 56% voting “no,” according to the US National Labor Relations Board, which oversaw the ballot. The results still need to be validated.

Mercedes, which changed the CEO of MBUSI in late April, expressed gratitude to staff who “made their voices heard on this important issue,” according to a company statement.

“We are excited to continue working directly with our Team Members to ensure that MBUSI is not only their preferred job, but also one that they would recommend to friends and family.

Union supporters said that the corporation bombarded rank-and-file employees with anti-union messages during forced sessions.

Workers who supported unionization filed unfair labor complaints with the National Labor Relations Board and German regulators, saying that the corporation violated supply chain laws.

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