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UAW Says Majority of Workers at Alabama Mercedes Plant Support Unionizing

The plant in Vance, Alabama, is the second one to reach more than 50% of workers signing up.

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Brent Snavel/Detroit Free Press via AP, File

DETROIT (AP) — The United Auto Workers said Tuesday that a majority of workers at a Mercedes plant near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, have signed cards in support of joining the union.

The plant in Vance, Alabama, is the second one to reach more than 50% of workers signing up, according to the union. Earlier in February, the UAW announced that a majority of workers at Volkswagen's factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, had signed union cards.

Mercedes worker Jeremy Kimbrell said in a statement Tuesday that employees at the plant have gone without what he called meaningful pay raises for several years. The plant, he said, also has a two-tier wage system for workers and abuses temporary workers.

Mercedes said in a statement that for 25 years in Alabama it has a record of "competitively compensating team members and providing many additional benefits." The company said it believes in open and direct communication with employees.

The Alabama factory complex has about 6,100 employees.

After winning strong contracts with Detroit's three automakers last year, the union has embarked on an effort to organize all nonunion auto plants in the U.S., including Tesla's assembly and battery factories in Texas, California and Nevada.

The UAW said its organizing drive will target more than a dozen U.S. plants run by Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Subaru, Mazda, Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW and Volvo. Tesla also is on the list, along with EV startups Rivian and Lucid.

After the Detroit Three contracts were approved, many nonunion factories announced worker pay increases. UAW President Shawn Fain has called the raises the "UAW bump," saying that they were given in an effort to thwart union organizing efforts.

The union says its strategy includes calling for an election at factories when about 70% of the workers sign up. A union can seek an election run by the National Labor Relations Board once a majority of workers support it.

The UAW pacts with General Motors, Ford and Jeep maker Stellantis include 25% pay raises by the time the contracts end in April of 2028. With cost-of-living increases, workers will see about 33% in raises for a top assembly wage of $42 per hour, plus annual profit sharing, the union said.

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