Mercedes Among Alabama Auto Plants Targeted by UAW
The Mercedes Benz plant in Vance faces another major push by the United Auto Workers (UAW) to unionize. The Tuscaloosa County plant is among a dozen non-union automakers in Alabama and across the south have been targeted for organizing campaigns. The other Alabama vehicle manufactures are Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, Mazda and Autocar along with Nissan in Mississippi.
The union, earlier this year, utilized strikes to achieve massive wins at the "Big Three" automakers in Detroit. They got contracts that provide a minimum of 25% pay increases, cost-of-living adjustments and better benefits at the American companies. Feeling their oats, UAW now is going after the non-union plants.
According to the UAW website the union has a three-step plan to win what they term "economic justice" for non-union auto workers. UAW President Shawn Fain is calling it a "30-50-70 strategy".
- When 30% of coworkers sign union cards, the UAW will very publicly go "loud and proud" about the unionization effort.
- When 50% of coworkers sign cards, Fain said, he will personally join each organizing effort for a rally.
- When 70% of coworkers sign cards — and when the organizing committee has representatives from every "department, line and shift" — the UAW will demand the given automaker recognize the union.
Fain claims non-union auto workers are falling behind in salaries as their companies earn massive profits.
The UAW's website states Mercedes’s profits have grown by 200% in just the past few years. The union says those profits should have gone to Mercedes workers not into the company spending $1.9 billion on stock buybacks.
The UAW website points out that all of the other auto producers in Alabama have also increased profits without improving salaries.
UAW Local 112 was formed at the Vance Mercedes plant on a voluntary basis in 2014. However, each attempt to develop a formal union at the German owned plant has been defeated in subsequent employee votes.
Some190 UAW workers went on strike against Mercedes-Benz supplier ZF in Tuscaloosa earlier this year. They eventually settled after a fourth contract offer raised wages and improved healthcare coverage among other demands.
Alabama is a "right to work" state, meaning that employers can’t require union membership as a condition of employment. The state's conservative politicians and economic developers have often pointed to that status as one of the top reasons the Alabama has attracted a number of high-profile companies in recent years.
The organizations unionization efforts are expected to kick into high gear after the first of the year according to a UAW press release.
Mercedes has not commented on the pending union efforts.