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UAW asks NLRB to reject Mercedes vote results, order new election

Kalea Hall and Breana Noble, The Detroit News on

Published in Business News

The United Auto Workers asked federal officials Friday to reject the results of last week's failed Mercedes-Benz unionization vote and order a new election.

The Detroit-based union wants the National Labor Relations Board to void the organizing election the union lost last week at the Mercedes complex in Vance, Alabama — a vote that delivered a blow to the UAW's nationwide autoworker organizing campaign after successfully unionizing Volkswagen AG's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in April.

The UAW is calling for a new election at Mercedes on the grounds that the German automaker allegedly fired four pro-union workers and allowed anti-union employees to solicit support on company time while barring union supporters from doing the same, among other discriminatory actions. After a five-day election last week, 56% of workers at the Mercedes plant voted against unionizing with the UAW.

Kayla Blado, a spokesperson for the NLRB, confirmed in a statement that the agency's Region 10-Atlanta office received the UAW’s three-page filing objecting to the election: "The Regional Director will review the objections and could order a hearing over them. If the Regional Director finds that the employer's conduct affected the election, she can order a new election."

The NLRB is also investigating six unfair labor practice charges filed by the UAW since March. The charges allege Mercedes disciplined workers for talking about unionization at work, prevented distribution of union materials and made statements against the union.

In a statement Friday, the UAW said that "over 2,000 Mercedes workers voted yes to win their union after an unprecedented, illegal anti-union campaign waged against them by their employer. What that tells us is that in a fair fight, where Mercedes is held accountable to following the law, workers will win their union. All these workers ever wanted was a fair shot at having a voice on the job and a say in their working conditions.

 

"And that’s what we’re asking for here. Let’s get a vote at Mercedes in Alabama where the company isn’t allowed to fire people, isn’t allowed to intimidate people, and isn’t allowed to break the law and their own corporate code, and let the workers decide.”

A Mercedes spokesperson responded to the UAW's filing on Friday with a statement, saying: "Over 90 percent of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) Team Members made their voices heard through a secret-ballot vote and the majority indicated they are not interested in being represented by the UAW for purposes of collective bargaining.

"Our goal throughout this process was to ensure every eligible Team Member had the opportunity to participate in a fair election. We sincerely hoped the UAW would respect our Team Members’ decision. Throughout the election, we worked with the NLRB to adhere to its guidelines, and we will continue to do so as we work through this process."

The vote count was 2,642 against union representation and 2,045 for, according to results posted by the National Labor Relations Board following the five-day election.

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