Mercedes-Benz Alabama workers voting on UAW membership this week

Credit: UAW

Mercedes-Benz workers at a factory in Alabama have begun voting on whether to join the United Auto Workers (UAW) this week, after the union was voted in at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee a few weeks ago.

On Monday, Mercedes workers began voting on UAW membership at the company’s factory in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with voting remaining open until Friday. The vote comes after a majority of workers at the Mercedes plant in February voted to hold a union vote, and after Volkswagen employees officially voted to recognize the UAW at the company’s factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last month.

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The Mercedes vote is thought to be much less of a sure-fire victory for the union, especially with the automaker specifically telling workers that they should vote no through flyers and signage, as Reuters reports. The outlet also alleges that Mercedes hired anti-union companies to come speak at the plant, though the automaker has denied that it is using union-busting tactics at the factory.

“Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) fully respects our Team Members’ choice whether to unionize and 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,” a Mercedes spokesperson told Teslarati in an email.

“MBUSI has a strong record of success over the past 25+ years operating as One Team in Alabama. Our primary focus at MBUSI is always to provide a safe and supportive work environment for our Team Members, so they can continue to build safe and superior vehicles for the world.  We believe open and direct communication with our Team Members is the best path forward to ensure continued success.”

Below, you can see the voting schedule for workers at the Mercedes factory, with the ballots set to be counted after polls close on Friday morning.

Credit: UAW

A spokesperson from the company told Reuters that Mercedes-Benz respects worker unionization efforts, adding that the company is making sure that each worker can vote secretly, while having all the details necessary to cast an informed vote.

“That is the biggest thing that we’re using to push because we can show how much the union can win now,” Mercedes employee Jacob Ryan told Reuters. Ryan adds that he supports the union due to the automaker’s failure to address worker concerns such as pay, hours, and benefits.

The employee has been at the factory for around five years, and under two years ago, he witnessed the plant struggling to get 20 percent of workers to file for a union election. To reach the point of holding a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election, as is now happening, the UAW says it waits for a facility to reach a 70-percent threshold of workers filing in favor of a vote.

The Alabama Mercedes plant produces the electric EQS and EQE lineups, as well as the gas GLE and GLS vehicles, according to the company’s website. The automaker also says it employed 6,100 workers in 2023, with around 295,000 vehicles produced there in the same year.

Although the Volkswagen plant had voted not to be recognized by the UAW twice before voting to join the union last month, this is the first time that a union election has been held at the Tuscaloosa Mercedes factory.

Following the UAW’s historic six-week strikes of Ford, General Motors (GM), and Stellantis last year, which ultimately garnered record pay increases for workers, the union announced a campaign at several other non-unionized facilities. In addition to Volkswagen and Mercedes, the UAW announced plans to launch organizing efforts at Tesla, Rivian, and nine other automakers.

During the strikes, UAW President Shawn Fain also called employees at Tesla, Toyota and other automakers “members of the future,” later saying he hoped to bargain with the “Big Five or Six” in 2028, rather than just the Big Three.

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Mercedes-Benz Alabama workers voting on UAW membership this week
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