Alabama Mercedes Benz plant workers file for union election, UAW says

  • Reuters
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Alabama Mercedes Benz plant workers file for union election, UAW says
Credit: © Reuters.

By Nora Eckert and David Shepardson

DETROIT/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Workers at a Mercedes Benz factory in Vance, Alabama, filed a petition with U.S. regulators to hold an election to join the United Auto Workers, the union said on Friday.

The SUV plant is the second to file an election petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in recent weeks. Reuters previously reported that Mercedes workers in Alabama would file an election petition with the NLRB as soon as this week.

The NLRB said it plans an April 15 hearing unless the sides agree on an election schedule.

The UAW said a "supermajority" of 5,200 eligible Mercedes workers at the plant and a nearby plant in Woodstock, Alabama signed cards to join the union. The UAW hopes for a vote by early May.

A Mercedes-Benz spokesperson said the automaker respects the right of employees to make a "choice whether to unionize and we look forward to participating in the election process to ensure" workers have access to information to make an informed choice.

The elections come after months of organizing efforts at more than a dozen non-union automakers owned by foreign companies like Hyundai Motor and Toyota Motor (TYO: 7203 ), as well as EV makers like Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ) and Rivian (NASDAQ: RIVN ).

After securing record contracts for the Detroit Three - General Motors (NYSE: GM ), Ford (NYSE: F ) and Stellantis - UAW President Shawn Fain pledged to accomplish a goal the labor group has failed at repeatedly over the last few decades: welcoming a new automaker to its unionized ranks.

The UAW's latest efforts come at a time when it has an ally in the White House. President Joe Biden, who last fall joined a UAW picket line in Michigan - a key battleground state in this fall's election - has backed UAW efforts to organize the nonunion automakers.

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, workers at a Volkswagen (ETR: VOWG_p ) plant were first to petition for a UAW vote, which is expected to be finalized by April 19. UAW organizers have twice lost a vote at that plant, narrowly missing a majority in 2014 and 2019. There have also been failed attempts at plants owned by Japanese automaker Nissan (TYO: 7201 ).

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Mercedes-Benz is seen outside a Mercedes-Benz car dealer in Brussels, Belgium June 1, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman/FILE PHOTO

Union officials have claimed in filings to federal regulators that some automakers are retaliating against workers or encumbering their attempts to organize. The labor group on Wednesday filed charges against Mercedes for violating Germany’s new law on global supply chain practices, which prohibits German companies from disregarding workers’ rights to form trade unions.

The company responded to some of the union's charges, saying they are inaccurate. It also said the company recognizes its employees' rights to organize.


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