Alabama Mercedes workers will reportedly file for union election as early as this week

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A petition for a union election at Mercedes-Benz’s automotive plant in Alabama could come as early as this week, according to Reuters.

The news agency cited three unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

In February, the United Auto Workers announced that more than half of the employees at Mercedes-Benz’s Vance plant have signed union authorization cards. The union has set a goal of 70% of the plant’s workers signing union cards before it will petition for a union election.

Reuters says a timeline for when the paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) could be filed is still fluid.

The news comes a little over three months since the UAW began a public campaign in auto plants located in Deep South states historically resistant to union activity. Mercedes-Benz, along with Hyundai’s Montgomery plant, are part of that campaign.

Last week, the union announced that workers at the Vance plant in Tuscaloosa County had filed charges of anti-union activity against them with the NLRB.

About 6,000 people work at Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI), which was the first auto plant to locate in Alabama. The plant produces the Mercedes GLE, GLE coupé and GLS model series. After investing more than $1 billion into its Alabama operations since 2017, Mercedes also produces the all-electric EQS SUV and EQE.

In February, the union announced 30% percent of the employees at Hyundai’s Montgomery plant had also signed cards.

If a union is certified or recognized, the employer is required to bargain over terms and conditions of employment with union representatives.

Just last month, the UAW announced hitting the 70% threshold at Volkswagen’s assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. That plant’s union election will be concluded in three weeks. It’s the third attempt to unionize that factory.

Amid the push for unionization, the state legislature is considering a bill that would keep companies receiving state economic development incentives from voluntarily recognizing labor unions.

Under SB 231, companies are also prohibited from disclosing an employee’s personal contact information to a labor organization, or a third party acting on behalf of a union, without the employee’s prior written consent, unless otherwise required by state or federal law.

Alabama’s new secretary of commerce, Ellen McNair, has said the union push “places our state’s main economic driver in the crosshairs,” and that “the days of Alabama being a premier destination for industry investment may be coming to an end” if the UAW organizes in state auto plants.

“The ability to have direct communication with team members, we think, is a very important part of the success that they have had,” she said. “If you look at the (auto plants), the layoffs, the plant closings, that hasn’t happened here. And it’s not by accident that it hasn’t happened here.”

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