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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Supermajority of Alabama Mercedes-Benz workers file petition to join UAW

Alabama Mercedes workers rally with UAW President Shawn Fain

A supermajority of Mercedes-Benz workers at the plant in Alabama have taken a significant, historic step by filing a petition today (April 5) with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Their goal? To vote on whether to join the United Auto Workers (UAW).

These over 5,000 workers are part of a growing movement among Southern autoworkers who are standing up for their rights. Just a few weeks ago, Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, also filed for their union election, which is scheduled for April 17–19.

In a recent, powerful video, Alabama autoworkers and UAW President Shawn Fain talk of just how important this fight is for the American and Alabama working class.

Jeremy Kimbrell, a measurement machine operator at Mercedes, emphasizes that they are advocating for every worker in Alabama. “We are standing up for every worker in Alabama. At Mercedes, at Hyundai and at hundreds of other companies, Alabama workers have made billions of dollars for executives and shareholders, but we haven’t gotten our fair share. We’re going to turn things around with this vote. We’re going to end the Alabama discount.”

Moesha Chandler, an assembly team member at Mercedes, highlights the importance of safer jobs. She shares her own experience of physical strain at a young age due to work-related issues. . “I’m still young, but I’m already having serious problems with my shoulders and hands. When you’re still in your twenties and your body is breaking down, that’s not right. By winning our union, we’ll have the power to make the work safer and more sustainable.” By forming a union, they hope to make their workplace safer.

Mercedes management has launched an aggressive anti-union campaign, but the workers remain determined. By late February, a majority of them had already signed union cards. Their union election is expected to take place by early May, pending the NLRB’s decision.

According to a UAW press release the union has filed federal labor charges against Mercedes for illegal union busting, as well as charges in a German court for labor violations that could net billions in penalties for the German automaker.

“We’re going to make Mercedes better with this vote,” said Jacob Ryan, a KVP team member at Mercedes. “Right now, the company keeps losing good people because they force them to work Saturdays at the last second, to take shifts that mess with their family lives. And the only choice people have is to take it or quit. With the union, we’ll have a voice for fair schedules that keep workers at Mercedes.”

These Mercedes workers are part of a broader national movement. Over 10,000 non-union autoworkers have signed union cards recently, with campaigns also underway at other facilities, including Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Toyota. The momentum for change is growing.



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