Written by 02:11 Politics

UAW Loses Unionization Vote at Mercedes Factories in Alabama

Workers at two Mercedes-Benz factories near Tuscaloosa, Ala., voted on Friday against allowing the United Automobile Workers to represent them, a stunning blow to the union’s campaign to gain ground in the South, where it has traditionally been weak.

The defeat came after Kay Ivey, Alabama’s governor, and other Republican leaders argued that a pro-union vote would choke off the investment that has transformed the state into a major auto producer. The union’s setback dims the chances that it will be able to quickly organize workers at Hyundai and Honda, which also have large factories in Alabama.

The vote had national significance as a test of whether the U.A.W. could build on a string of recent victories and make strides in a state whose elected officials have been hostile to organized labor. The union has said it wants to organize every automobile factory in the United States, expanding its membership to include the employees of companies like Toyota and Tesla.

But the loss at the Mercedes plants will almost surely slow down the union’s campaign and probably force it to do more spadework to secure the support of workers before seeking to hold elections at other auto plants. Union leaders will want to spend time figuring out how best to counter the messages and tactics of local lawmakers and company executives.

“This loss stings,” Shawn Fain, the president of the U.A.W., said at the storefront headquarters of the union’s local branch down the road from the Mercedes factories in Vance and Woodstock, Ala.

But “most of us lost elections in our lives,” he added. “We learn from it. We move forward, and that’s what we intend to do.”

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Last modified: 19 May 2024
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