The union vote rhetoric is heating up. The third day of the union vote at the Vance Mercedes Benz plant is taking place amid punches and counter punches from those for and against the United Auto Workers.

An organized labor online mouthpiece called published a piece about how Mercedes has enlisted a local pastor in a’ union busting’ campaign. That pastor is Tuscaloosa City Councilman Matthew Wilson (District 1) who is pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Marion.

They quoted a post by Wilson on X (formerly twitter) that was sent to Mercedes workers on Monday morning before the vote commenced. “Here in Alabama, community is important, and family is everything.” wrote Wilson. “We believe it’s important to keep work separate. But there’s no denying, a union would have an impact beyond the walls of our plant.”

The article also quoted a reaction from a labor academic.  “This is a strategy as old as unions,” said Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at the Cornell University School of Industrial Labor Relations. “Particularly in towns dominated by a very large corporation, companies give enough money to churches to purchase their long-term loyalty and rely on the church leaders to preach an anti-union message.” (Rev. Wilson's church is in the Perry County town of Marion).

The article emphasized Wilson being a pastor more than his interest in the vote as a city council member. But in various media, the councilman points out he is member of the city government which has a vested interest in the outcome of this week’s election.

In the post Wilson went on to talk about how important Mercedes is to the Tuscaloosa Community. “Mercedes Benz has been an uplift for people like me, for people who look like me,” he said in the recording, Black assembly line workers moved from the Black Belt to seek employment at Mercedes, especially after Alabama lost almost 50,000 manufacturing jobs between 2002 and 2017. That’s partly why today the plant employs a large Black workforce.

On the Friday before the vote began this past Monday Wilson walked the line at the Mercedes plant. Pro-union workers claim they were approached by him. One of those workers was Detrick Lewis who told he asked the councilman about his feelings for the late civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was pro-inion.

In the article Lewis claims Wilson responded, saying, “Martin Luther King was an elitist classist who did not care about the average American.”

In a note written before an appearance on local TV station WVUA, Wilson claims he was totally misquoted by Lewis, “What I actually said was that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was a classic man. He was classically educated. He was a part of an elite group of people who used their God given talents to speak to the pain that man Americans were experiencing in the 1960s.” Some local religious and civil rights leaders have been attacking the councilman based on the quote from Lewis.

Wilson has also participated in a video with six other people, including new MBUSI head Frederico Kochlowski at supporting Mercedes.

The UAW has already filed six charges with the National Labor Relations Board and German authorities alleging unfair labor practices and union busting activities against the company

While the ongoing union vote elicits high drama in Tuscaloosa County, further south, in Montgomery, employees began standing up their attempt to organize the Hyundai plant.  That is the next target of UAW President Shawn Fain.

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