The United Auto Workers (UAW) union says it has obtained union authorization cards from over 30% of Mercedes-Benz’s Alabama manufacturing employees, marking another milestone in the group’s efforts to organize automotive labor outside the Detroit-Three.
Since establishing historic contract agreements with Stellantis, Ford, and General Motors in late 2023, the labor association has focused on expanding union membership across the U.S. “When we return to the bargaining table in 2028, it won’t just be with the Big Three, but with the Big Five or Big Six,” remarked UAW President Shawn Fain, shortly after the organization ended its strike against the Detroit-Three.
The group is now pursuing unionization at select automaker facilities across the U.S. Its plan is to publicly announce a campaign at each facility once 30% of employees cast their vote in favor of organizing. As more workers side with the UAW, the group will ramp up its efforts at each plant, culminating in a formal request, once support hits 70%, calling on the related automaker to recognize the creation of a union or face a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election. Only 30% of a company’s workforce is required to sign authorization cards for the NLRB to hold an official vote.
The Mercedes-Benz plant, located in Tuscaloosa, is the second site where the UAW says it has received enough commitment from employees to launch a public campaign, with the first being Volkswagen’s plant in Tennessee. Labor organizers face an uphill battle in both states, along with most of the southern U.S., due to predominant anti-union sentiments and widely-applied right-to-work laws. These policies heavily restrict labor organizations, primarily by allowing employees to decline union membership and avoid paying dues.