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Mixed results for UAW as it pushes south

New York Teacher

The attempt by the United Auto Workers union to gain a stronger foothold in the politically conservative South faltered in mid-May when workers at a Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, Alabama, voted against joining the union.

Workers at the plant and at a nearby battery facility voted 2,642 to 2,045 against joining the UAW.

The loss came a month after employees at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, voted overwhelmingly to join the UAW.

Before that victory, the union had repeatedly failed to organize a foreign-owned automaker in the South. Workers at the same Volkswagen plant had voted no to the union in 2014 and 2019. In 2017, Nissan workers at a plant in Mississippi rejected the UAW by a wide margin.

Just as a win at Volkswagen didn’t guarantee a win at Mercedes-Benz, that loss doesn’t guarantee future defeats, American University professor Stephen Silva said.

Mercedes-Benz hired anti-union firms to speak with workers about the potential risks of joining the UAW, and signs urging a “no” vote were posted at the plant, according to workers, photos and audio.

Emboldened by the strong contracts it wrested from the Big 3 automakers in November 2023, the UAW wants to organize more than a dozen automakers in the United States, including Toyota and Tesla.

Reuters, May 17

Related Topics: Labor issues