United Automobile Workers

May 17 2024

Statement from UAW President Shawn Fain on Mercedes Alabama Vote

“These courageous workers at Mercedes reached out to the UAW because they wanted justice. They led us. And they lead us. What happens next is up to them. 

Justice isn’t about one vote or one campaign. It’s about getting a voice, getting your fair share. And let’s be clear: workers won serious gains in this campaign. They raised their wages, with the “UAW bump.” They killed wage tiers. They got rid of a CEO who had no interest in improving conditions in the workplace. Mercedes is a better place to work thanks to this campaign, and thanks to these courageous workers.  

The company told the workers to give the new CEO a chance. That’s exactly what Volkswagen told its workers in 2019. And in 2024, Volkswagen workers realized it’s not about a CEO. It’s about a voice on the job, it’s about getting our lives back, and getting our time back. The only path to do that is through a union contract. 

Mercedes engaged in egregious illegal behavior. The federal government as well as the German government are currently investigating Mercedes for the intimidation and harassment they inflicted on their own workers. We intend to follow that process through. 

This is a David and Goliath fight. Sometimes Goliath wins a battle. But David wins the war.  

These workers will win their fair share. And we will be there every step of the way to support them. 

We've been here before. We know what we're taking on. This company, like most corporations, operated off the same old playbook of fear, threats and intimidation. 

Our fight is also in the halls of the legislatures of this country. Sixty million Americans say they'd join a union if given the option. Polling here in Alabama and in Tennessee show people supported the UAW by a two to one margin. But with weak labor laws in place, sometimes the companies are able to turn those numbers around. 

The UAW will continue to lead the fight against corporate greed and runaway inequality. And through that fight we’ll change the nation and the world for the better. 

While this loss stings, these workers keep their heads held high. We fight the good fight and continue forward. 

And the workers here ultimately will win. Most of us have lost elections in our lives and I know I've always learned from it. What matters is what you do with that experience. 

We put everything we had in this fight, we left nothing on the table. I look at John Wooden's definition of success: "Success is the peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you're capable. Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts." 

There are more than 2,000 workers at Mercedes in Alabama who want to join our union. They aren’t going away. The sun will rise, and the sun will set, and our fight for justice for the working class will continue. 

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Contact Information

Jonah Furman

Feldman Strategies, team@feldmanstrategies.com