United Automobile Workers

Apr 05 2024

Mercedes-Benz Workers in Alabama File for Union Election as Southern Autoworkers Stand Up to Join the UAW

VANCE, Ala. – A supermajority of Mercedes-Benz workers have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a vote to join the UAW. The over 5,000 workers at the Mercedes plant outside Tuscaloosa, Ala., are the second group of Southern autoworkers to call for a union election in less than three weeks. Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tenn., filed for their election in mid-March and will have their vote to join the UAW April 17–19.  

A new video announcing the election filing at Mercedes features the Alabama autoworkers at a recent rally with UAW President Shawn Fain. In the video, Mercedes workers speak out on why they’re voting yes to join the UAW. (The media is invited to use footage from the video.) 

In a statement today, Jeremy Kimbrell, a measurement machine operator at Mercedes, said, “We are standing up for every worker in Alabama. At Mercedes, at Hyundai and at hundreds of other companies, Alabama workers have made billions of dollars for executives and shareholders, but we haven’t gotten our fair share. We’re going to turn things around with this vote. We’re going to end the Alabama discount.” 

“We are voting for safer jobs at Mercedes,” said Moesha Chandler, an assembly team member at Mercedes. “I’m still young, but I’m already having serious problems with my shoulders and hands. When you’re still in your twenties and your body is breaking down, that’s not right. By winning our union, we’ll have the power to make the work safer and more sustainable.” 

Mercedes management is running an aggressive anti-union campaign, but that has not blunted the workers’ momentum. By late February, less than two months after Mercedes workers went public with their drive to join the UAW, a majority of them had signed union cards. The Mercedes workers hope to be voting in their union election by early May. The NLRB is expected to quickly set the date for the election.  

The UAW has filed federal labor charges against Mercedes for illegal union busting, as well as charges in a German court for labor violations that could net billions in penalties for the German automaker. 

“We’re going to make Mercedes better with this vote,” said Jacob Ryan, a KVP team member at Mercedes. “Right now, the company keeps losing good people because they force them to work Saturdays at the last second, to take shifts that mess with their family lives. And the only choice people have is to take it or quit. With the union, we’ll have a voice for fair schedules that keep workers at Mercedes.” 

The Mercedes workers are part of the national movement of non-union autoworkers organizing to join the UAW in the wake of the historic Stand Up Strike victory at the Big Three auto companies. Over 10,000 non-union autoworkers have signed union cards in recent months, with public campaigns launched at Mercedes, Volkswagen, Hyundai in Montgomery, Ala., and Toyota in Troy, Mo. Workers at over two dozen other facilities are also actively organizing. For more information, visit uaw.org/join. 

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Contact Information

Jonah Furman

Feldman Strategies, team@feldmanstrategies.com