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UAW Formally Announces Push to Unionize Mercedes-Benz Factory in Alabama

Jan. 17, 2024
The union also plans to spread to a Volkswagen factory in Tennessee.

The UAW formally announced its push to unionize Mercedes-Benz’s lone U.S. plant near Vance, Alabama today. In a January 16 video address, the UAW’s president, Shawn Fain, said that 1,500 or 30% of workers at the factory have signed cards calling for an election.

“Last week, autoworkers at Mercedes in Vance, Alabama, made history by announcing that 1,500 of them had signed union cards and are ready to stand up and fight to join the UAW,” Fain said.

The most recent push is not the first time the UAW has aimed to unionize Mercedes’ lone U.S. factory in right-to-work Alabama. Its last attempt, roughly a decade ago, resulted in a similar threshold of support but no union elections. This time, according to a document posted on the UAW’s website, the union plans to have 70% of employees sign cards before asking Mercedes to voluntarily recognize the union.

On January 10, after the UAW had announced the 1,500 cards but before launching its official campaign, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey wrote an op-ed touting Alabama’s status as an auto supplier and saying it was “under attack” by the UAW and alluding to its push to unionize other auto factories in the South.

“A national labor union, the United Automotive Workers (UAW), is ramping up efforts to target non-union automakers throughout the United States, including ours here in Alabama,” Governor Ivey wrote. “Make no mistake about it: These are out-of-state special interest groups, and their special interests do not include Alabama or the men and women earning a career in Alabama’s automotive industry.”

In his video address, Fain shot back: “I say the out-of-state special interest group is the foreign car company that takes millions in taxpayer dollars to pay poverty wages to American workers.”

Ivey’s note that the UAW is targeting sites other than Alabama is accurate: The announcement on Mercedes’ Vance, Alabama, plant comes about a month after the UAW said it had reached a similar 30% threshold at Volkswagen USA’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant.

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