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Not everyone welcoming the UAW as Mercedes Benz workers vote on possibly going union


 Workers at The Mercedes Benz factory near Tuscaloosa begin voting this week on possibly joining the United Auto Workers Union. Not everyone is rolling the red carpet for the UAW. There’s opposition on the web. A group calling itself The Mercedes Benz U.S. International Workers Information Committee is spreading the word against going union. Their social media includes quotes from workers talking about losing jobs and benefits. Featured Mercedes Benz staffers making statements like…

“The UAW can’t protect my job. The only person that can protect my job is me.”

“I have good pay, good benefits. I like being able to have open door communication with management and I don’t wanna lose any of that.”

“The company is doing better for us… we don’t need an outside voice.”

“There is no need for someone else to speak for you. Speak for yourself… consider your future. Consider your security.”

Last month, Governor Kay Ivey joined leaders from five other Southern States to warn autoworkers against joining the U-A-W. Their message, at that time, was about losing jobs if Tennessee’s Volkswagen plant joined the union. About 4,300 workers at VW's plant in Chattanooga were preparing to vote on representation by the United Auto Workers. That election was the first test of the UAW's efforts to organize nonunion auto factories nationwide. The governors said in a statement that they have worked to bring good-paying jobs to their states. But they said a successful union drive would stop auto manufacturing growth and hurt workers. The UAW declined comment at that time. But, workers at the Chattanooga Volkswagen factory did. Over seventy percent of the rank and file choose to go union, and the UAW hopes for similar results at Mercedes Benz this week.

The National Labor Relations Board announced that this week’s vote would take place. The NRLB said that the company and the union agreed to the election dates, and that the federal agency will tally the ballots this coming Friday. The UAW’s organizing effort comes after the union won big pay raises after striking Detroit's three automakers last fall. The Mercedes facilities had over six thousand employees as of the end of 2023. The UAW said more than five thousand called for the union vote.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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