UAW Quietly Building Southern Strategy For Organizing Mercedes-Benz

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

Inside a small strip mall in Coaling, Ala., the UAW is quietly at work in its fight to organize the Mercedes-Benz facility in nearby Vance, using similar tactics as those employed in the ongoing battle for the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Detroit Free Press reports the union has been in its latest push for Mercedes-Benz’s Alabama factory for the last two years, building enough support to establish a local, with the end game of organization in mind. The tactic is already in play in Chattanooga, where a local was put in place after the UAW lost a close election in February of this year, whose results were briefly contested before the National Labor Relations Board before the union withdrew the complaint.

However, while Volkswagen outright desires to have a works council in its sole U.S. facility, Mercedes and parent company Daimler AG aren’t too interested in buying what the UAW is selling. As recent as July 2014, the NLRB ruled against the automaker on accusations that it was prohibiting distribution of union materials in team center areas and the plant’s atrium during off-work hours. On the other hand, the ruling also verified that as far as organization is concerned, the two entities remain neutral.

Meanwhile, stronger resistance is building within the state, as interest groups prepare to fight back against the UAW’s Southern Strategy, which also includes the Nissan plants in Canton, Miss. and Smyrna, Tenn.

Further up the chain, Governor Robert Bentley proclaimed earlier this month that he doesn’t see a reason for workers in any company to sign on with the union, “as long as a company does what they should do with their workers” by treating them well.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Sep 15, 2014

    I'm curious, what principles did Daimler ostensibly violate?

    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Sep 15, 2014

      The principles of union-involvement in the operation of the plantts as they are mandated in Germany.

  • LeeK LeeK on Sep 15, 2014

    Last I heard, Montgomery is the state capital of Alabama. Of course, U of A football fans think Tuscaloosa is the center of the known universe, but that's a different conversation.

  • Ion Ion on Sep 15, 2014

    Ugh our fine friends in Alabama can barely do their job as is. They don't need the UAW giving them assistance to muck more things up.

  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Sep 16, 2014

    So, who's money is the UAW using? I do think the UAW should have a closer look at why and what it will gain from new hosts. Rather than using the rank and files money the UAW taxes on political aspirations, wouldn't the UAW be better using the money wasted down south on it's existing members? The people down south will be hard to convince of the benefit the UAW can offer. They just look at the UAW's history of events at the Big 3. They need to do more with the existing rank and file to change the view many hold of them.