The United Auto Workers union is following the same road map at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama that it used to reach its historic vote to represent Volkswagen employees in Tennessee.
The UAW has been working with German union IG Metall and the Daimler works council, the labor group at Mercedes parent Daimler AG, to build support for the UAW among Mercedes workers in Vance, Alabama, according to the union and Alabama workers opposed to the UAW.
Since 2011, the UAW’s efforts have included IG Metall officials making house calls on Alabama employees and the collection of signed cards backing the American union. Mercedes workers in favor of the UAW also have handed out fliers in the plant, and last month the union quoted an employee saying the union has never had greater support in the plant.
The UAW took a similar approach to organizing VW’s 1,550 hourly workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Those workers are in the middle of a three-day secret ballot election on UAW representation. The union’s efforts at the VW plant were backed at different times by leaders at IG Metall and VW’s works council.
If it wins this week’s vote in Tennessee, industry observers and analysts expect the UAW to focus next on the 17-year-old Mercedes plant in Alabama and its 3,000 hourly workers. UAW President Bob King has said organizing the U.S. plants of foreign automakers is critical to the his union’s future.
Daimler executives have repeatedly said that any decision regarding union representation at the Alabama plant is up to the employees.