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Mercedes workers in Alabama to vote on joining UAW union

Mercedes workers in Alabama to vote on joining UAW union


Workers at a Mercedes factory in Alabama are taking a big step toward possible unionization by asking federal authorities to organize a factory-wide vote on joining the United Auto Workers.

The factory filed a petition Friday asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold the vote after more than half of the plant’s 5,000 workers signed cards stating their interest in joining the UAW, the union said in a statement. It will take just 50 percent plus one vote of workers for unionization to pass.

The plant, outside Tuscaloosa, is the second of roughly a dozen auto factories that the UAW is attempting to organize in southern states, as the union makes a big push to expand outside its traditional base in the Midwest. A Volkswagen factory in Tennessee has already set a vote that will take place over three days starting April 17. Tesla, Honda and Toyota factories are some of the union’s other targets.

A spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz said the company respects workers’ choice to unionize.

“We look forward to participating in the election process to ensure every Team Member has a chance to cast their own secret-ballot vote, as well as having access to the information necessary to make an informed choice,” according to a statement from Mercedes-Benz North America, provided by spokeswoman Andrea Berg.

UAW announces drive to organize Toyota, Tesla and a dozen other automakers

For decades, the UAW’s main autoworker members have come from Detroit’s Big Three manufacturers — Ford, General Motors and Jeep maker Stellantis. The union’s past efforts to push into factories in the South have failed in the face of resistance from local politicians and workers.

The union is now hoping the big raises that it recently won in new contracts with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis will help broaden its appeal with autoworkers in the South. It’s also betting on attitudes toward unionization improving among younger workers.

The UAW launched the campaign in the South late last year, aiming first to get workers to sign union cards stating their interest in joining the UAW. The union said that once 70 percent of workers at a factory sign cards, the UAW would demand that the company recognize the union. If that proved unsuccessful, the union said it would ask the NLRB to hold an election.

In its statement, the union said a “supermajority” of Mercedes workers had signed cards. It didn’t offer more specific numbers.


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