Mercedes-Benz workers in Alabama file for union election | US unions

Mercedes-Benz workers in Vance, Alabama, have voted to hold an election to join the United Auto Workers (UAW), the second car plant in a southern state to pass such a vote in the last month.

A supermajority of more than 5,000 workers at the plant have asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to organize an election. Volkswagen employees in Tennessee made the same decision last month and will vote on whether to join the UAW later this month.

The UAW has long struggled to organize workers in southern car plants. The new wave of votes comes after the UAW won historic concessions from the US’s big three automakers following a strike last year.

“We are voting for safer jobs at Mercedes,” said Moesha Chandler, an assembly team member at the Mercedes plant. “I’m still young, but I’m already having serious problems with my shoulders and hands. When you’re still in your 20s and your body is breaking down, that’s not right. By winning our union, we’ll have the power to make the work safer and more sustainable.”

Jacob Ryan, a team member at the Mercedes plant, argued workers need the union for issues such as forced Saturday shifts and unfair scheduling.

“Right now, the company keeps losing good people because they force them to work Saturdays at the last second, to take shifts that mess with their family lives. And the only choice people have is to take it or quit,” Ryan said. “With the union, we’ll have a voice for fair schedules that keeps workers at Mercedes.”

Workers anticipate the NLRB will schedule a date for the union election in early May.

The organizing efforts have incited significant opposition from some Republican elected officials in the south, including Kay Ivey, the Alabama governor, business groups and automakers.

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Earlier this week, the UAW filed unfair labor practice charges against Mercedes-Benz in the US and Germany over allegations of union busting. The allegations include claims of a retaliatory firing of a worker with stage 4 cancer. Mercedes-Benz denied the allegations.


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