Will Alabama Mercedes-Benz workers be next to join the UAW?

Vance, Alabama - Mercedes-Benz workers in Alabama are voting this week on whether to join the United Auto Workers (UAW) in what could be the labor union's next big victory.

Mercedes-Benz workers in Alabama are voting this week on whether to join the United Auto Workers union.
Mercedes-Benz workers in Alabama are voting this week on whether to join the United Auto Workers union.  © REUTERS

Over 5,000 workers at a Mercedes-Benz manufacturing factory in Vance and a battery plant near Woodstock are voting through Friday in the highly watched union election.

If the result is favorable, it could put yet another notch on the belt of the surging UAW.

After ratifying historic new contracts at Detroit's "Big Three" automakers last year, the union announced plans to organize workers at non-union factories, primarily in the South.

Joke of the Day for June 11, 2024: Get your funny on
Joke of the Day Joke of the Day for June 11, 2024: Get your funny on

On the target list are plants run by Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Subaru, Mazda, Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW, and Volvo, as well as Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid.

The results are already beginning to show: The UAW secured a momentous win last month at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where workers overwhelmingly voted to unionize after two prior failed attempts.

Mercedes-Benz workers stay optimistic

A giant Mercedes-Benz logo towers over the tree line at the company's factory in Vance, Alabama.
A giant Mercedes-Benz logo towers over the tree line at the company's factory in Vance, Alabama.  © Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP

The UAW is heading into Alabama with momentum, but the path to victory may be complicated by Mercedes-Benz's efforts to stifle the organizing drive.

The company has racked up multiple unfair labor practice complaints, including allegations that it has subjected employees to anti-union captive-audience meetings, as well as disciplined and fired pro-union workers.

Alabama's Republican Governor Kay Ivey has also sought to stoke fear of the UAW, claiming the state's "model for economic success is under attack" and describing the union as an "out-of-state special interest group."

UN suspends delivery of aid to Gaza out of the newly built US pier
Israel-Gaza War UN suspends delivery of aid to Gaza out of the newly built US pier

Despite these challenges, many Mercedes-Benz workers remain hopeful of a positive outcome to their union election.

David Johnston, an employee at the Woodstock plant, told Forbes: "I mean, hands down. I think we're going to win. We're going to win. Hopefully by a lot."

"It seems like it's going to be a slam dunk, just like Volkswagen. Everybody's excited," he added.

Voting began on Monday, May 13, and runs through Friday, May 17 at 10:45 AM.

Cover photo: REUTERS

More on Labor Unions: