UAW says majority of workers at Mercedes Benz US plant seek to join union

(Reuters) – The United Auto Workers (UAW) union said on Tuesday that a majority of hourly workers at a Mercedes Benz Alabama factory have signed cards to join the union.

In response, Mercedes Benz did not say whether it would recognize the union or contest the effort ahead of a potential vote. The company said it has a strong record of success in more than 25 years of operations in Alabama and believes “open and direct communication” with its employees “is the best path forward to ensure continued success.”

In November, the UAW said it was launching a first-of-its-kind push to publicly organize the entire nonunion auto sector in the U.S. employing about 150,000 hourly workers after winning record new contracts with the Detroit Three automakers.

About 6,000 workers are employed at the German automaker’s Alabama plant that builds the GLE and GLS.

Earlier this month, the UAW said a majority of workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, assembly plant have signed cards to join the union.

VW, which says about 4,100 workers at the plant that produces the Atlas and ID.4 are eligible to join a union, said earlier this month it respects “our workers’ right to decide the question of union representation.”

The UAW has for decades unsuccessfully sought to organize auto factories operated by foreign automakers. Efforts to organize Nissan Motor workers in Mississippi and Tennessee failed by wide margins, and two attempts to organize VW’s plant in Chattanooga narrowly failed. In 2019, VW workers at the plant rejected union representation in an 833-776 vote.

The UAW in November announced campaigns at 13 nonunion automakers, including at Tesla, Toyota, Hyundai, Rivian, Nissan, BMW, opens new tab and Mercedes-Benz.

The UAW previously said more than 30% of workers at a Hyundai plant in Alabama had signed cards to join the union as well.

The UAW’s deals with General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis included an immediate pay hike of 11% and a 25% increase in base wages through 2028. They also cut the time needed to reach top pay to three years from eight years and boost the pay of temporary workers by 150% and make them permanent.

Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Franklin Paul and David Gregorio