June 16, 2024


UAW President Shawn Fain speaks after workers at a Mercedes plant in Alabama rejected joining the United Auto Workers (UAW) union outside Vance, Alabama, U.S., May 17, 2024.

UAW President Shawn Fain speaks after workers at a Mercedes plant in Alabama rejected joining the United Auto Workers (UAW) union outside Vance, Alabama, U.S., May 17, 2024.
Photo: Nora Eckert (Reuters)

The United Auto Workers (UAW) is asking federal officials to overturn the results of last week’s failed union election at Mercedes-Benz’s Alabama factory, alleging that the company illegally interfered in the process.

The union on Friday filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) asking for a new election at the Tuscaloosa factory. The UAW said Mercedes engaged in a “in a relentless anti-union campaign” that included firing pro-union employees and holding frequent captive audience meetings to spread anti-union rhetoric.

The union’s Friday filing also claims that pro-union employees were targeted for drug tests and four UAW supporters were terminated. In the days leading up to last week’s election, some pro-union workers described UAW supporters being terminated for having their cell phones out. At least one union supporter has said they were disciplined for using their phone on the shop floor, despite having permission.

Mercedes said in a statement that it “worked with the NLRB to adhere to its guidelines and we will continue to do so as we work through this process.”

“Our goal throughout this process was to ensure every eligible Team Member had the opportunity to participate in a fair election. We sincerely hoped the UAW would respect our Team Members’ decision.”

Of the more than 5,000 workers at Mercedes’ factory, just 2,045 voted in favor of joining the UAW, according to the labor board. The NLRB said 2,642 workers voted against union representation. Fifty-one ballots were challenged and were not counted, while five additional ballots were voided.

The UAW has also filed charges against the Mercedes-Benz Group in German court under the Act on Corporate Due Diligence Obligations in Supply Chains, which sets supply chain standards for firms based in Germany. Last Thursday, just a day before the election, the UAW announced that German authorities had begun investigating Mercedes over the union’s charges. Mercedes has denied the claims.

“We look forward to continuing to work directly with our Team Members to ensure MBUSI is not only their employer of choice, but a place they would recommend to friends and family,” Mercedes said in a statement last week. The company did not immediately return a request for comment Friday.



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