Union Eyes Vote to Organize Mercedes Plant in Alabama

Reuters reports that Tim Smith, the union's Region 8 Director, has confirmed that Mercedes workers in Alabama are moving forward with efforts to join the UAW, and plan to file a petition as soon as this week. Smith and UAW President Shawn Fain have both commented on the development, with Fain stating that "the company is pushing back and the politicians are getting involved," and Smith proclaiming that "we're proud of them and they're going to win also."

While a date for the vote is yet to be set, the UAW has claimed that a majority of the plant's approximately 6,000 workers have signed cards to join the union. In response to Smith and Fain's comments, a Mercedes spokesperson emphasized the company's track record of providing competitive compensation and benefits to employees, and stated that they want to ensure that employees make an informed decision on whether or not to unionize.

The organization efforts at Mercedes come as the UAW is attempting to organize workers at other automakers, such as Tesla, and successfully negotiated labor deals with Detroit's Big Three (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler parent company Stellantis) last fall. Fain hopes that successes similar to those achieved with the Detroit Three will occur with other automakers as well, and that the UAW will be able to negotiate with what he predicts will be a expanded group of automakers come 2028.

Currently, the UAW is also seeking a vote at Volkswagen's assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where voting on whether to join the UAW is scheduled to end on April 19. Should the effort at Mercedes be successful, it would likely accelerate similar efforts at other nonunion plants, and reverse the UAW's membership decline from its peak of 1.5 million members in the 1970s to 370,000 last year.