UAW loses organizing vote at Mercedes in Alabama

Kalea Hall and Luke Ramseth, The Detroit News on

Published in Business News

A majority of workers at the Alabama Mercedes-Benz have voted against joining the United Auto Workers — a setback for the Detroit union in its national campaign to organize foreign transplant factories.

The vote count was 2,642 against union representation and 2,045 for, or 56% no, according to results posted by the National Labor Relations Board following a five-day election that started Monday and ended Friday morning.

The loss at the luxury German auto plant comes a month after workers at the Volkswagen AG plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, voted for UAW representation. The union's organizing momentum is likely to take a hit just ahead of a presidential election that could have big implications for organized labor if someone is elected other than pro-union President Joe Biden.

About 6,100 employees at the Mercedes complex make the GLE, GLE coupé and GLS model series, as well as the all-electric EQS SUV and EQE and batteries for the EVs.

Jay White, lead of the MBUSI Workers' Information Committee campaigning against the UAW, said "Thank God" when The Detroit News informed him of the vote's outcome.

"I don't know that I would call it an achievement from that perspective, I think it's a team win for all the employees," White said. "It's hard to say what was the deciding factor would have been for a lot of people but I'm sure politics played a part."


In a statement after the election results were released, Mercedes-Benz said: "We look forward to continuing to work directly with our Team Members to ensure MBUSI is not only their employer of choice, but a place they would recommend to friends and family."

Experts didn't expect a guaranteed win at the plant owned by Daimler AG since Mercedes, business leaders and politicians sought to discourage support for the UAW in one of the nation's most conservative states. UAW President Shawn Fain acknowledged the possibility of a defeat in an interview earlier this month with The News.

"I don't view it as a setback," Fain said. "I know what these workers are put under. That's just another indicator, another issue with this nation of how how poorly the laws are structured for working class people. All the laws made favor business. The courts are structured to favor business over people."

Workers pushing for the UAW were seeking higher wages, enhanced benefits and having a set contract that the automaker could not change without their approval.

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