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Mercedes-Benz staff in Alabama vote towards union

United Auto Staff (UAW) members and supporters on a picket line outdoors the ZF Chassis Techniques plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, US, on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023.

Andi Rice | Bloomberg | Getty Photos

Mercedes-Benz staff in Alabama have voted towards union illustration by the United Auto Staff, the Nationwide Labor Relations Board mentioned Friday.

The outcomes are a blow to the UAW’s organizing efforts a month after the Detroit union gained an organizing drive of roughly 4,330 Volkswagen plant staff in Tennessee. Voting began Monday and ended Friday.

Union organizing failed with 56% of the vote, or 2,642 staff, casting ballots towards the UAW, in response to the NLRB, which oversaw the election. Greater than 90% of the 5,075 eligible Mercedes-Benz staff voted within the election, in response to the outcomes.

The NLRB mentioned 51 ballots have been challenged and never counted, however they don’t seem to be determinative to the end result of the election. There have been 5 void ballots. 

The union and firm have 5 enterprise days to file objections to the election, together with any alleged interference, in accordance to the NLRB. If no objections are filed, the election consequence will likely be licensed, and the union must wait one 12 months to file for a union election for the same bargaining unit.

Mercedes-Benz in a press release mentioned firm officers “sit up for persevering with to work immediately with our Group Members to make sure [Mercedes-Benz US International] just isn’t solely their employer of alternative, however a spot they’d suggest to family and friends.”

United Auto Staff President Shawn Fain (proper) and UAW Secretary-Treasurer Margaret Mock (left) lead a march outdoors Stellantis’ Ram 1500 plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan after the union referred to as a strike on the plant on Oct. 23, 2023.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

The loss is predicted to harm the UAW in an unprecedented organizing drive launched late final 12 months of 13 non-union automakers within the U.S. after securing document contracts with Detroit automakers Ford Motor, General Motors and Stellantis. These agreements included important wage improve, reinstatement of cost-of-living changes and different advantages.

UAW President Shawn Fain mentioned whereas the Mercedes-Benz vote was clearly not the consequence the union wished, it was a valiant effort, including the vote “is not a failure” however a “bump within the street.”

“Whereas this loss stings, I am going to inform you this, we will hold our heads up, hold our heads up excessive. These staff don’t have anything to do however be proud within the effort they put forth and what they’ve performed,” he mentioned Friday throughout a media convention. “We fought the nice battle and we will proceed on, proceed ahead. In the end, these staff listed below are going to win.”

The Mercedes-Benz vote was anticipated to be more difficult for the union than the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, the place the union had already established a presence after two failed organizing drives previously decade and the place it confronted much less opposition from the automaker.

Stephen Silvia, author of “The UAW’s Southern Gamble: Organizing Staff at International-Owned Car Vegetation,” famous Mercedes-Benz changed the plant’s chief weeks forward of the election. He mentioned corporations routinely do that, promising staff adjustments at their services in an effort to stave of organizing.

“Corporations do anti-union campaigns as a result of they are often efficient, and I feel this one was efficient,” mentioned Silvia, a professor at American College in Washington, D.C. “A standard piece of an anti-union marketing campaign is firing the plant supervisor … That appears to have persuaded sufficient of the employees to vote towards the union.”

Mercedes-Benz Alabama plant votes against unionization

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, who was one of six Republican governors to sentence the union’s organizing drive, hailed the end result of the vote.

“The employees in Vance have spoken, and so they have spoken clearly! Alabama just isn’t Michigan, and we aren’t the Candy House to the UAW. We urge the UAW to respect the outcomes of this secret poll election,” she mentioned.

Staff at Mercedes-Benz’s Tuscaloosa plant, positioned about 60 miles southwest of Birmingham, have produced greater than 4 million automobiles for the reason that plant opened in 1997, together with 295,000 automobiles in 2023, in accordance to the plant’s website.

The Alabama plant at the moment produces automobiles such because the gas-powered GLE and GLS Maybach SUVs in addition to the all-electric EQS and EQE SUVs.

The NLRB final week mentioned it continues to course of and examine open unfair labor follow costs filed by the UAW towards automakers, together with six unfair labor follow costs towards Mercedes-Benz since March.

Fain mentioned Friday the union would proceed to maneuver ahead with these costs. He declined to say whether or not the union plans to problem the election outcomes, saying he’d “go away that” to the union’s authorized workforce.

The fees allege that Mercedes-Benz has “disciplined workers for discussing unionization at work, prohibited distribution of union supplies and paraphernalia, surveilled workers, discharged union supporters, compelled workers to attend captive viewers conferences, and made statements suggesting that union exercise is futile,” the NLRB mentioned.

The union has filed different costs towards automakers Honda, Hyundai, Lucid, Rivian, Tesla and Toyota, in response to the NLRB.

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