By on September 15, 2014

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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.

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23 Comments on “UAW Quietly Building Southern Strategy For Organizing Mercedes-Benz...”


  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Ford closed the plant in Hapeville, GA and GM closed the plant in Doraville, GA. Both are in suburbs of Atlanta and both were UAW plants. Do you think the UAW learned anything since 2006 when the Ford plant closed or 2008 when the Doraville plant closed?

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      Aren’t all GM and Ford plants in the US and Canada UAW facilities? What does that have to do with closing plants in the Atlanta area?

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @bosozoku – The Canadian version of the UAW is not affiliated with them. They broke from the UAW quite a long time ago. They are struggling in Canada and merged with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions forming a mega-union called Unifor.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @Lou_BC That is a very bad move for a Union, to go from a very specific industry to a combined group covering a vast range of conditions and pay rates, would be a nightmare. It would have been better to ally themselves with other other similar industries in the metal trades. No wonder CAW has lost it’s way

  • avatar
    redav

    Will the UAW actually improve workers’ lives at these plants? If yes, then move forward the strategy to unionize. If no, then it should be concluded that the UAW sees these workers as fresh meat to increase their revenue.

    I have doubts that the UAW will improve the workers lives. I don’t see evidence that the UAW cares much about the lives of its members–only their revenue. In fact, I have a hard time seeing the UAW as anything other than a big business trying to sell its product through any means necessary. I don’t like other big businesses doing this, and I don’t like the UAW doing it, either.

    • 0 avatar
      Waterview

      Well said. I keep waiting for a new union or similar entity to enter the scene and offer something the UAW can’t or won’t. If the plant’s employees were told they don’t have to carry the UAW’s legacy costs and outdated policies, they may opt for a union – simply as a better way to communicate with management on a collective basis. I think the UAW is trying to sell an outdated model.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “I keep waiting for a new union or similar entity to enter the scene and offer something the UAW can’t or won’t”

        If the UAW was like the European, Asian or Mexican unions that work WITH employers instead of against them, and didn’t carry the “death and destruction for employers” baggage that the UAW has accumulated over the decades past, possibly people would have a higher regard for American unions and the UAW in particular. Union membership is way, way, way down.

        The reality is that past administrations have stepped in and mandated worker protections that only government mandates could impose on employers.

        It is my belief, even though I grew up in a two-union household, that unions today are redundant, outdated, irrelevant and unnecessary.

        What is a union going to do for their members these days? Remind the employers of the government mandates re employees imposed on them? Employers have boatloads of lawyers on staff already doing that!

        Any employee with half a brain who believes that he/she has been wronged by their employer has a multitude of pathways they can travel. And that’s not even getting into the Whistleblower Act for serious stuff.

        The problem for employers is ferreting out good, productive employees from the riffraff BEFORE they are hired. Once hired, employees have more rights than the employers do.

        That’s another reason why we have so many long-term unemployed in America. If they had been keepers to begin with, other employers would have hired them long before now.

        And before someone becomes faux-offended, I have a (former) son-in-law who was a corporate attorney. He was let go several years ago when his company moved from California to Texas to set up a Maquiladora in Mexico. All the keepers, including staffers and lowly support clerks, were transferred with the company to Texas and/or Mexico, at company expense. He and many others were not keepers, and were told so, in more diplomatic language.

        All those who weren’t keepers were shown Jerry Brown’s welfare line. My (former) son-in-law is still in that welfare line and works out of his mom’s house in the LA area doing pro-bono cases, mostly for indigent illegal aliens, all the while drawing handouts from the compassionate California taxpayers.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Using the word ‘quietly’ in the story makes it sound like the UAW is doing something illegal or sneaky. I don’t think that’s the case. They just don’t need to make a lot of noise right now while they’re working out this strategy.

    It will come down to a very well-publicized vote, anyway, and that won’t be so quiet.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Good news for Mexico

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      That’s probably a realistic ending to this whole debacle.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @thelaine…I hate to say it, but your right. Don’t under estimate the folks in the plant.

      The people on the plant floor, are very much aware of the “we can do this in Mexico” threat

      In the past the union always had their “strike weapon”. That particular weapon has been diffused by economic reality. Today management carry a “Nuke” in their brief case. Its called Mexico.

      My knowledge of world economics amounts to zero. I do know that “free trade” agreements, have killed the private sector unions. Believe me, their dead. They just don’t know enough to lie down.

      On the other hand, public sector union’s are flourishing. I can’t help but wonder. With all those well paid manufacturing jobs gone, replaced by low paid workers. Who is going to pay the taxes to support the public sector?

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        @Mikey

        Could not agree more. It is a circle of corruption. Still, ignorant taxpayers just keep electing the same crooks, who make the payoff over and over again. Ultimately, we get what we deserve. It’s not like it’s being done in secret. People think it is “job creation.” Actually, it is the opposite, since it sucks money out of the private sector.

      • 0 avatar
        Roader

        “My knowledge of world economics amounts to zero.”

        Yet you are wise beyond most econ post-grads, along with ‘The people on the plant floor, are very much aware of the “we can do this in Mexico” threat.’

        US workers have to compete on a global basis, no matter what idiotic conservatives like Pat Buchanan say, or idiotic Marxists like Paul Krugman bloviate.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          mikey is one of the real-deal people, not one of the pretend-experts that proliferate ttac’s comments section.

          Maybe mikey got his wisdom living the real life and gained his practical knowledge that way, instead of the academia members and bean-counters who postulate their theoretical and hypothetical thesis on an ideal world, devoid of any practical experience.

          I’ll take mikey’s real-life experience over the agenda-driven comments of the UAW plants here any day.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @mikey – the UAW lobbied against NAFTA for the very reason you cited…….. there is no bargaining power when a company will shut down and set up shop in another country.

        We saw that very thing happen with the American Axle strike. Union workers were told to take pay cuts for any unskilled workers or they’d go to Mexico. American Axle shut down facilities in the USA and moved abroad.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @mikey,
        The old “walk out” or go slow at a drop of a hat have well and truly gone. Now Unions have to be creative in how they can put pressure on management. PR, appealing to other advocacy groups is one method or if allowable taking the issues to some legal court of arbitration. Strikes, have virtually disappeared, the UAW seems to be the last vestige strangely enough of the “British Unionist”. A Industrial creation that died with British Leyland in the 1980’s

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          RobertRyan, “Unions have to be creative”?

          If you have ever watched the movie “On The Waterfront” with Marlon Brando, you’d understand the roots and beginnings of American unions.

          It was a very controversial movie — unions panned it, audiences were disgusted by implications portrayed in the movie.

          But as times changed, public opinion mellowed out as everyone understood it was a phase of America’s past, like slavery.

          Jimmy Hoffa is turning, wherever he is at!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

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

  • avatar
    LeeK

    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.

  • avatar
    Ion

    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.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    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.

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