Mercedes-Benz Employees Tell The UAW To Get Packing

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
mercedes benz employees tell the uaw to get packing

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. 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, 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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  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Jun 02, 2014

    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.

  • Thornmark Thornmark on Jun 02, 2014

    >>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.

  • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Jun 03, 2014

    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.

    • FreedMike FreedMike on Jun 03, 2014

      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.

  • Jacob_coulter Jacob_coulter on Jun 03, 2014

    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.

    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jun 03, 2014

      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.