Apr 18, 2024 - Business

Mercedes-Benz workers in Alabama to vote on joining UAW

A factory worker shines a red car on an assembly line

An employee does final inspections on a Mercedes-Benz C-Class at the Mercedes-Benz factory in Vance, Alabama, on June 8, 2017. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

The UAW and Mercedes-Benz agreed to a vote in May over whether the automaker's sprawling factory in Tuscaloosa County, Ala., should be unionized.

Why it matters: The union is on a mission to organize 13 non-unionized automakers in the U.S. after winning record contracts from General Motors, Ford and Stellantis following a simultaneous strike in 2023.

Driving the news: Workers at the Mercedes-Benz facilities in Vance, Ala., and Woodstock, Ala., will cast ballots from May 13-17, the National Labor Relations Board said Thursday.

  • Ballots will be counted beginning at 10:45am ET on May 17.
  • The automaker's Tuscaloosa assembly plant had about 6,100 employees in 2023.

The announcement comes a day before voting ends at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, where some 4,300 workers are deciding whether to join the UAW.

  • The Volkswagen factory would be the only non-Detroit Three assembly plant in the U.S. to be unionized, while the Mercedes-Benz plant would become the second if the UAW prevails in Chattanooga.

What they're saying: "Year after year, the company says they've got record profits and sales, but our pay doesn't keep up. It's time to set things right. It's time that we had our voice heard," Derrick Todd, a worker at the plant since 2005, said in a recent statement.

The other side: Mercedes-Benz "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 company spokesperson said.

Republican opposition to the bid is also mounting.

  • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey — along with the governors of Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — issued a statement on Tuesday bashing the UAW campaign.
  • The effort is "driven by misinformation and scare tactics," and "we do not need to pay a third party to tell us who can pick up a box or flip a switch," she said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from Mercedes-Benz.

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