By on June 2, 2014

28_Millionth_Vehicle_at_Plant_Tuscaloosa

Frustrated by the lack of results brought by the UAW, a group of Mercedes-Benz employees located at their Alabama factory is seeking to replace the UAW as their partner in organizing the plant.

AL.com is reporting that two Mercedes employees who are leading the push for unionization have come out publicly against the UAW, after a long organization drive failed to produce any results. According to AL.com, as many as 30 percent of hourly workers had signed union cards, but the number was insufficient for the UAW.

Mercedes employee Jim Spitzley was critical of the union, stating

“It’s all about the image with the UAW, and it’s not about the workers,”

Spitzley and colleague Kirk Garner are courting other unions, including the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, but the AFL-CIO has granted the UAW with exclusive jurisdiction over the Alabama facility, which means that other unions can’t take over the UAW’s organization drive. Both Spitzley and Garner have asked for a change, but have received no response.

According to the two men, the UAW’s efforts have been mismanaged, but they remain committed to organizing the plant – without the UAW. After failing to organize Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant as well as other Japanese-owned plants in the South, this development is hardly a vote of confidence for the UAW, even though the desire to organize may be alive and well.

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35 Comments on “Mercedes-Benz Employees Tell The UAW To Get Packing...”


  • avatar
    -Nate

    I can’t wait to see how this turns out…..

    -Nate

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I’ll have to plead union ignorance here – do all unions who want to be recognized sign up under the AFL-CIO, who then hands out jurisdiction over specific facilities?

    Or does a facility come to the AFL-CIO and say “We want a union, please assign us one?”

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      It’s an umbrella organization. They help coordinate industry unions. So more than likely the 2nd is the realistic response.

      In general though the way that Derek tried to paint it as sinister is more than obtuse. The UAW represents the auto workers hence the AW in UAW. To bring in a different industry representative would amount to forcing that union to do double work by preparing reports and wage scales to account for supporting two separate industries.

      If anything, this seems like minor rank breaking because the UAW has had slow goings in a traditional anti-union region.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Thanks!

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Xer, bringing in different industry representatives actually does happen, and in a wide range of industries, for instance, public employee unions, federal employee unions, teacher unions and federations, too many to all list here (and non-contributory to the current thread about the UAW).

        I’m not saying it’s right, I’m saying that some collectives will choose their own union to represent them if the MAJORITY of employees feel it is necessary.

        Before Hostess went belly-up, there were at least two unions, that I can remember, who represented the employees — at least two unions that were hell bent on sending Hostess plunging to its financial death.

        By golly, they succeeded. Ditto with GM and Chrysler.

        Maybe the MAJORITY of M-B workers would prefer to remain working without union representation. These two people seem to be activists and agitators. IOW, inciters of disharmony.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          HDC – You’re right, some unions represent different workers within the same industry, in a large supermarket they may have 2-5 separate unions but they are based around individual positions (such as meat cutters, bakers, produce…). It doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, it just means its inefficient.

          As for the Hostess argument don’t make me Godwin, I really don’t want to. You’re certainly going down the ‘big lie’ lane with the whole argument considering every financial analyst who actually reviewed Hostess’ finances found the management at fault for effectively robbing Hostess blind while blaming the Unions.

          I know if you repeat it long enough and stick to your friends they’ll buy that but you’re coming to loggerheads with me and you know I won’t swallow the swill you’re trying to peddle.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Xer, I’m not peddling anything. I have NO agenda. I believe that employees should decide for themselves if they want union representation, or not.

            What I see here is two instigators. Just two, out of all the M-B employees in the US. That doesn’t seem sinister to you?

            I question why unions are even needed in this day and age of government mandates on employers and EEOC oversight of employer hiring ethics and practices.

            But at the same time, I can also clearly identify the contributory factors that lead to the demise of any employer, to include management practices AND contributory union actions and sanctions against the employers, in the name of the employees they represent, who soon would lose their jobs when their employer went belly-up.

            You’ll never convince anyone with at least half a brain that the UAW was innocent in the demise of GM and Chrysler, and the near self-implosion of the American auto industry.

            So, while you and I may disagree at times, people like me, with our experiences re unions, often have to wonder out loud why, when a vote is held about unionizing a plant, and then is soundly rejected and defeated by the majority vote, the unions will not accept that and keep coming back contesting the outcome of the vote?

            Seems to me, the swill is coming from the unions. Not just one, but all!

            They could settle this at the M-B plant by holding an up or down vote to unionize, or not.

            But if the result of the vote is against unionization, that will not be the end of it for these two characters and the unions they represent.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Two? You mean two employees asked for a new union partner. ~30% have signed union cards which makes for a much heavier dose of union desires.

            If you believe that government mandates and the EEOC are effective then fine, but I would point out the main and biggest part of unions are to negotiate wages. In fact in the last few months it has come to light that professionals who are by and large unrepresented by unions have had substantially varied salaries for doing the same work. In most of those cases it became one of when they were hired (if the market was lean they were paid better) and if they were male and to a lesser extent white. All of those would be considered under the role of unions.

            As for why anybody keeps fighting the fight after they lose a vote, I could go through the historical views and political arguments around unions specifically tied to the south and the transplant regions. But that seems to have been done to death already by me, so I’m going to point this out, if you dislike the idea of people choosing in opposite of your opinion, tough luck, I lose, you lose, we all lose from time to time, but we should atleast be honest in our fights because as it stands the strongest anti-union arguments have all crumbled under any serious scrutiny by non-partisan analysis mainly because the argument relies on the idea that the current free market system is good for workers and that it is a desirable goal to maintain.

            But from what you sound like on here, HDC, it sounds like you make double or triple my salary so I’m a mere plebeian in your world of elites. So don’t my rabble-rousing while I try to take the Bastille. :)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            HDC and Xeranar your positions are well known, but here’s my question.

            The “right” argues unions suck the blood from employers, encourage sabotage from the inside, and generally are only out for themselves. So in short, the non-union folks certainly don’t trust the union.

            The “left” argues employers are out to screw the unions and without unions the employees would be treated as disposable near slaves as is done in most of the non-Western world. So the union folks do not trust management/non-union employees.

            My question is, if nobody trusts each other than how is anything supposed to get done?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Xer, you brought a smile to my face with ” it sounds like you make double or triple my salary so I’m a mere plebeian in your world of elites”

            Actually, my traceable income from my military retirement, VA disability and social security retirement is $2400 a month. That’s all.

            However, I do scrape together other income every month from odd jobs I do, that is handled in cash and therefore no record exists of it. And that amount varies from $0 to whatever I can get.

            Regardless, it is evident that some employees believe that they will be better off with union representation.

            But 30% of the employees does not a majority make. I say, put it to a vote NOW and let the chips fall where they may.

            My Dad and Mom both belonged to separate and different unions at one time, and both were much happier when they changed jobs and professions and were no longer required to be members of a union. And they got to keep more of their own money as well.

            Ironically enough, my daughter moved from LA to El Paso, TX, to work as a teacher of teachers at one of the Universities, and she was REQUIRED to join a union or she would not be recommended for the job! This in a state where union membership is not required.

            So, as far as your beliefs about unions are concerned, we all have to believe in something in our life. It gives us motivation and direction as we progress.

            But when it comes to unions, I believe that we should ask the people who were union members at one time to see if they would want to be union members again, in real life.

            Some people spend their whole working lives as union members and don’t know any better or different.

            But anyone with an open mind can read up on what unions have done for and to America, and then decide for themselves.

            I think you will find that the vast majority of Americans will not be pro-union.

            This could account for the decline in union membership, until the UAW put their patsy in the White House.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            28-Cars-Later, your wisdom and sageness shines through.

            The answer is, “It doesn’t! Things don’t get done.”

            BTW, I’m not a rightie nor a leftie. I’m an Independent and I gravitate towards what is good for ALL of America, and ALL Americans. I vote for the best candidate, not party ideology.

            As long as we have factions that govern us with agendas of their own, and give no consideration about what is good for America, we are doomed to suffer the lot we are experiencing today.

            People with money will always continue to prevail while people without money will always resent them and fall ever lower down society’s scale in stature.

            The have-nots will always be envious, jealous, of those who are successful and who have improved their lot and lifestyle.

            More so, the have-nots hate those who have INHERITED their wealth. That’s why so many old people with money shelter their wealth and quietly distribute it among their heirs BEFORE they die and before the IRS can get its grubby hands on it.

            So that’s why the majority voted to put O* in the White House so he could take America’s wealth from those who have earned it, and spread it among those who prefer not to work for it.

            I believe ALL unions stand for making their employers unprofitable. Employees, union members, are not owners or shareholders but want to share in the profits, if any, but none of the losses.

            And those two opposing philosophies are exactly why nothing will ever get done, either way.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            28 – People like to make money. A business makes that money. The problem is when it comes down to dividing that money the capitalist class doesn’t like to give a share to the workers. The workers are the one who effectively make it all possible, so why should they give a share to the capitalists?

            GM as an example works perfectly fine because the union worker makes a car that is designed by engineers. But when it comes down to the division of the pie for the people that’s when everybody draws guns and wants to battle.

            Which has always been the argument since the industrial revolution. The replacement of small holder farms of subsistence living with industrial holders who had employees created this complicated relationship that nobody wants to admit is symbiotic because the elites don’t mingle with the workers, they simply see the numbers on paper and want them to grow bigger.

            HDC – Well as long as I could make you smile. That puts your traceable income at about 57% of my own (go ahead and do the math, I don’t mind.)

            As for the rest of your folksy home-spun goodness, you would do St. Ronnie proud. Too bad the reality is far from it. I understand, you’re an aging white male, the world is scary, your folks decided they were happier outside the union. You exhibit class right-libertarian views about free market capitalism.

            I could go on but frankly I don’t need to be a snob to have you pegged better. I mean the way you claim to be ‘independent’ and then rail against unionism and talk about the have/have-nots in a cliche protestant work ethic/Calvinist ideology literally screams right-wing.

            So you may have come to that conclusion on your own or perhaps you were fed it by a society that wanted to keep you quiet and satisfied by letting you hold yourself over others. Regardless, I’m not going to respond further because frankly I’m still going to be storming the Bastille.

            If it is any consolation the right as we understand it won’t be around in 20 years. Social justice/Economic left-wing views are consistently winning in every western country and the US is finally getting diverse enough that the ‘Southern Strategy’ is beginning to fail. So I’m always going to be worried until we win the final battle but the war is turned in my favor.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Believe it or not, public employees unions have headquarters admin staff who are themselves organized, with the public employee union becoming their “employer”. The administrative staff of several public employee unions in California like CSEA and SEIU are represented by the UAW. The “AW” in UAW apparently also stands for “Administrative Worker”, not just Auto Worker. It also gives a hint why other unions might not want to move in on the UAW’s turf.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Spitzley and Garner may be blaming the UAW, but it’s possible the M-B workers simply don’t want to unionize.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      That’s the first thing that came to my mind too. If these two people are not happy in a non-unionized environment, maybe they should quit and seek employment with Ford, GM or Chrysler. These two people strike me as pro-union subversives planted there to destabilize worker morale. Similar to the VW plant in TN.

      Until this is resolved, one way or another, there will always be the specter of unionization hanging over the plant. Unionization in America is vastly different from unionization in Europe, Asia or Mexico.

      We have already seen what the UAW and other unions have done to their employers in the US, so maybe the vast majority of M-B workers simply want to keep working and keep their jobs and income, rather than have a union collectively bargain them out of a job.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Hmmm, maybe that expains why my Mercedes reliability was only slightly better than my GM cars.

    Not to matter – never ever again purchasing anything by either manufacturer again.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      That’s what other owners have said about their import brands (Toyota, Honda, BMW) when their brands started making them in America, using American labor and American suppliers.

      • 0 avatar
        Mullholland

        Your oft stated personal belief is but one man’s opinion.
        If you’ll have a look at vehicle sales, the “import brands” you refer to: Toyota, Honda and BMW have not suffered in any way by assembling their vehicles in America, using American labor and American suppliers. In fact, their sales and brands have thrived.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Mostly through new customers, possibly? Many old customers have turned their backs on Toyota and Honda. They voted with their feet.

          And those who went back to GM are now experiencing the ecstasy and the agony of why they left GM for an import in the first place, all over again.

          I know no one with a BMW who is not military and who bought an American-made BMW. But the guys who brought back a BMW from Europe will not be buying an American incarnation in the future.

          And I do have long time friends who still drive Japanese imports from the ’80s today, but have bought new cars in the mean time like three people who bought a new Grand Cherokee, a guy who bought an F150, another who bought a Subaru, two people who bought Sonatas, and more, but this is all I recall as of right now.

          So just because those brands have not suffered in any way by assembling their vehicles in America, does not equate that those vehicles are of the same quality as when those vehicles were imported from the home country.

          I play poker with a bunch of guys, gearheads one and all, and when guys get together who have a common love for all things automotive, the conversation most often drifts toward to that topic.

          When people I know and trust express their belief, I am ready to accept that, not as one man’s opinion, but as a belief that was formed or nurtured because of personal experience.

          I don’t care what people buy. But I find it noteworthy when someone who I know and trust tells me about a car he owns, “Naw man, they’re not like the old imports anymore. I won’t buy another one!”

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Mostly through new customers, possibly? Many old customers have turned their backs on Toyota and Honda. They voted with their feet.

          And those who went back to GM are now experiencing the ecstasy and the agony of why they left GM for an import in the first place, all over again.

          I know no one with a BMW who is not military and who bought an American-made BMW. But the guys who brought back a BMW from Europe will not be buying an American incarnation in the future.

          And I do have long time friends who still drive Japanese imports from the ’80s today, but have bought new cars in the mean time like three people who bought a new Grand Cherokee, a guy who bought an F150, another who bought a Subaru, two people who bought Sonatas, and more, but this is all I recall as of right now.

          So just because those brands have not suffered in any way by assembling their vehicles in America, does not equate that those vehicles are of the same quality as when those vehicles were imported from the home country.

          I play poker with a bunch of guys, gearheads one and all, and when guys get together who have a common love for all things automotive, the conversation most often drifts toward that topic.

          When people I know and trust express their belief, I am ready to accept that, not as one man’s opinion, but as a belief that was formed or nurtured because of personal experience.

          I don’t care what people buy. But I find it noteworthy when someone who I know and trust tells me about a car he owns, “Naw man, they’re not like the old imports anymore. I won’t buy another one!”

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          YO! What happened? Why are there TWO of my comments up there?

          Ah so, maybe WordPress and Win8.1 anomaly?

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    ~30% have signed union cards
    ~70% have not

    So there’s that….

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      You would think!

      But no.

      To a union-organizer’s convoluted mind, 30% is somehow the majority!

      Go figure. I wonder how many of those people were left behind in school, or skipped school altogether? That’s the only way that they could think that 30% is a majority.

      Yet the unions with their constant droning will try to drum this into their heads, “30% means we can win!”

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        Hang on a second.

        The article makes it clear that the UAW regards 30% as an insufficient base for moving forward. Which is what’s upsetting the (apparently, 2) dissidents.

        Your post is entirely unsupported by the text of the article.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Unions tend to stay on their own turf and prefer not to wander into other jurisdictions but it happens more commonly than you think.
    Unions do raid other unions jurisdictions. It just happen in the province I live in. The BC Nurses Union representing Registered Nurses raided the Hospital Employees Union for Licensed Practical Nurses. LPN’s were disgruntled with the HEU which is mostly support staff like housekeepers.
    Employers always played both unions against each other and would hire more employees that were cheaper. It had been a bitter cycle going on for 30 odd years.

    We see many other unions representing staff in non-traditional areas. What worries me is the fact that Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged with the CAW making one huge union.

    I don’t have a big problem with any trade union but they have developed a tendency to be unrealistic when negotiating wage and benefit packages. The auto industry is the poster child of such largesse.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @Lou_BC
      Your first sentence;
      “Unions tend to stay on their own turf and prefer not to wander into other jurisdictions but it happens more commonly than you think.”

      You sort of make it sound like other organisations, ie, bikies, Mafia, etc.

  • avatar
    Calico Jack

    It never ceases to amaze me when people around here start talking about unions. It’s like many people just don’t realize how bad companies are. But here’s how the system works…the corporation is out to make as much money as possible. They don’t give a damn about their customers. They don’t give a damn about their employees. They don’t give a damn about government regulations. All of these things are simply factors to be manipulated as deftly as possible to wring as much money as possible from the world in general and direct it towards the paychecks of the corporate leaders. Cynical? No. That’s just what the world has long since proven to me.

    This is why government regulation and unions are both necessary and good; they stomp on the pernicious cockroach that is the modern American business. Obviously neither are perfect. But they make the workplace look like the Garden of Eden compared to how the company would operate left to its own devices.

    “I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half.” said Jay Gould, and if you’re familiar with the work of early strikebreakers, you know he wasn’t kidding. Business hasn’t changed since then. That was just the era when they weren’t reined in.

    • 0 avatar
      Dirty Dingus McGee

      “This is why government regulation and unions are both necessary and good; they stomp on the pernicious cockroach that is the modern American business.”

      I’m curious how you developed this attitude? Did an employer not pay you what YOU thought you were worth? Any small to medium, and even most large, company that was ran the way you suggest would not last 5 years. Customers are what keeps a company alive. Piss on them and word spreads fast. Faster even these days what with Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and blogs/news sites such as TTAC. Same with employee’s. Anyone above unskilled labor is far harder to replace than they are to retain.

      If you are not happy with the way current or former employer’s have treated you, start your own company. Run it the way YOU see fit. I suspect that within a short period of time your views on government oversight, and union rules, would undergo a rapid change.

      And then you might understand why the janitor does not make the same wage as the owner/president.

      • 0 avatar
        Calico Jack

        No, I’ve been fortunate with my employment history; I have no particular axes to grind against specific corporations, just industry as a whole.

        How I developed my attitude? Well, I watched the news, for starters. GM is busy MURDERING its customers with ignition switches, and will we see anyone put on trial for it? Of course not. Think that’s a new phenomenon? May I mention the Ford Pinto gas tank? A cost of 113 million to keep more people alive vs 49 million to pay off the burn victims and next-of-kin, and Ford decided to let people die.

        Japanese industry has a particularly nasty track record. Google Minamata Disease or Itai-Itai Disease.

        The ultimate example of the unrestrained corporation? The Dutch East India Company. With their government’s cheerful approval, they executed people accused of crimes against them, launched military engagements and war fleets,and made giant boadloads of money while killing plenty of natives in foreign lands. Sound kinda like Haliburton?

        And I understand why the janitor doesn’t make as much as the CEO. But I don’t get why the CEO makes 80 million dollars. Never will, either.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I wonder for how much longer the UAW will move around the US embarrassing itself.

    It seems the only ones who want them are in Detroit and the rust belt.

    Even then I would like to see a secret ballot held to gauge the UAW’s appeal.

    I even bet they aren’t wanted on their own turf.

    Maybe it’s time for the UAW to modernise into the 21st century and move out of the Victorian era.

    There aren’t 12 year old kids working in mines anymore.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    >>we should atleast be honest in our fights because as it stands the strongest anti-union arguments have all crumbled under any serious scrutiny by non-partisan analysis mainly because the argument relies on the idea that the current free market system is good for workers and that it is a desirable goal to maintain.<<

    180 degrees off and absolutely wrong. The UAW has been an unalloyed disaster for the American auto industry and for this country. And if they ever “succeed” in the South, that will be the end of the US industry.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I think unions have a place. There are certainly industries that NEED a union. But I do not think that auto manufacturing is currently one of them. 80 years ago, sure. But not today. The pay there is very good, the working conditions are safe, I fail to see what the union brings to the table for the average auto worker other than dues out of their pocket and overpaid union management. The pay scales at even the lowest paying automaker are sufficient for a typical middle-class lifestyle. Well, unless you are one of the poor guys on the shafting end of the “two-tier” wage structure in the union shops. Bet those guys just LOVE the union.

    Now the poor folks stuck working at Walmart – THEY need a union! Or all the single moms stuck making minimum wage at McDonalds. They need a union too. There are plenty of workers who actually ARE underpaid and borderline abused, but none of them are autoworkers.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      All due respect, I think you have it wrong. Low paid workers aren’t necessarily in need of a union – they’re in need of UPWARD MOBILITY. When =I was a kid, I worked no shortage of minimum wage or low paying jobs. And that was OK – they were career placeholders, jobs meant to pad up your resume or keep yourself in beer and weed while you were in college. And if you didn’t want to get an education, you could bootstrap yourself into a good paying apprenticeship or blue collar job by starting at the “entry level.”

      Problem is, today the entry level is the LAST level. Realistically, what’s your chance of a high paying career at Wal Mart if you start stocking shelves? Not great. The company is actually STRUCTURED to minimize management jobs, because these workers make more money. Same for many other industries composed of mostly entry level jobs. The “career ladder” is largely gone. And for the folks stuck in these jobs, I get the anger – they’re trying to raise a family on $10 an hour, it ain’t working, and there’s no visible next step up. And as far as “well, get more education and find a better job” is concerned, easy for me to say, but much harder for these folks to do when they’re working two and three jobs to barely scrape by, and try to raise a family. That’s the reality for these folks.

      What we need is better paying jobs for low to medium skilled workers – jobs they can use to leverage higher paying positions. That’s not something that unions can fix.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    If every state was a right-to-work state, the UAW would be dead.

    The only way it’s able to survive is being in the few states that won’t allow workers to make the voluntary choice of being in a union and paying dues.

    Now that Michigan went to a right-to-work and more states to follow, they’re on borrowed time.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The real issue isn’t mandatory union membership to get/hold a job, it’s collective bargaining. In California, NOT a right-to-work state, nobody is forced to join a union, but if a union is representing a collective bargaining unit and negotiating contracts, the worker must pay for the bargaining expenses, member or not.

      That was the result of a lawsuit against unions deducting full dues from workers who didn’t want to be in the union. A judge ruled a worker could not be forced to join, but had to pay a fair share of bargaining expenses. Most unions declared the part of their dues dedicated to membership benefits is worth $1, and the rest is collective bargaining expenses. Refuse to join the union and all you save is a buck.


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