United Auto Workers Expresses Optimism Ahead of Alabama Union Election Results

Results at the union drive at Mercedes’s Vance, Alabama, plant are expected Friday.

Olivia Ross/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP
A sign outside of the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Olivia Ross/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP

Morale is high among Mercedes employees hoping to unionize another auto manufacturing plant in the traditionally right-to-work South, with the week-long vote set to wrap up Friday.

The Alabama Political Reporter reports that pro-union employees at Mercedes’s Vance, Alabama, plant are optimistic ahead of the end of the union drive, with turnout reportedly high.

The plant at Tuscaloosa County is the second high-profile unionization drive at an auto plant in the South, with employees at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant successfully voting to unionize earlier this year.

In Alabama, though, employees have faced stiff resistance from both the Business Council of Alabama and from the state government, which has moved to punish companies for voluntarily recognizing unionization efforts.

“Let me be crystal clear that Joe Biden’s UAW has no interest in seeing Alabamians succeed,” Governor Ivey wrote in a statement to the Alabama Reflector. “Instead, their interest here is ensuring money from hardworking Alabama families ends up in the UAW bank account. That is why they are willing to spend $40 million to gain a foothold in the Southeast’s automotive powerhouse.”

While organizers faced resistance during the Chattanooga drive as well, the unionization effort at Vance will be another test of the United Auto Workers’ push to organize the traditionally anti-union south, a campaign the union has spent some $40 million waging.

In Alabama, the UAW has accused Mercedes of committing unfair labor practices in its campaign to dissuade or intimidate employees against voting in favor of unionization.

One employee at the Mercedes plant, Robert Lett, told the Alabama Political Reporter that the company was forcing employees to watch anti-union videos every day, texting employees repeatedly, and sending mailers to their employees.

Another employee, Rick Webster, said, “This has probably been the most strategic and organized union busting campaign in decades.” 

Mercedes has denied allegations of committing unfair labor practices, saying in a statement that the company “has not interfered with or retaliated against any Team Member in their right to pursue union representation.”


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