UAW rejected in Ala.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Workers at two Mercedes-Benz factories near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, voted overwhelmingly against joining the United Auto Workers on Friday, a setback in the union’s drive to organize plants in the historically nonunion South.

The workers voted 56% against the union, according to tallies released by the National Labor Relations Board, which ran the election.

The NLRB’s final tally showed a vote of 2,642 to 2,045 workers against the union. A total of 5,075 voters were eligible to vote at an auto assembly plant and a battery factory in and near Vance, Alabama, not far from Tuscaloosa, the board said. Nearly 93% of workers eligible to vote cast ballots.

The NLRB said both sides have five business days to file objections to the election. The union must wait a year before seeking another vote.

UAW President Shawn Fain told workers the results were not what the union had hoped for, but he said the UAW eventually will prevail. “These courageous workers reached out to us because they want justice,” he said.

He likened the union organizing effort to the fight between David and Goliath: Sometimes Goliath wins a battle, “but ultimately, David will win the war,” he said. “These workers will win their fair share.”

Fain said whether the union challenges the election results will be up to UAW lawyers. The union already has filed unfair labor practice complaints against the company alleging that management and anti-union consultants tried to intimidate workers. The company has denied the allegations.

“Obviously we’re following through on complaints, both here and in Germany” where Mercedes is headquartered, Fain said.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, who has campaigned against the union, wrote in a post on X that auto manufacturing is one of the state’s crown jewel industries, and the state is committed to keeping it that way.

“Alabama is not Michigan, and we are not the Sweet Home to the UAW,” she wrote. “We urge the UAW to respect the results of this secret ballot election.”

Worker Melissa Howell, who opposed joining the union, said she and other employees realized that the UAW was making lofty promises that it couldn’t put in writing, including pay of $40 per hour, pensions and better benefits.

“They kept repeating over and over, ‘You’re not going to lose anything. We’re going to start with what you have right now,'” Howell said. “That’s when we really started letting people know, ‘Hey, hold up. It’s all negotiable.'”

But Rick Garner, 60, who works in quality control at the Mercedes assembly plant and supported joining the union, said workers were shown an anti-union video every day ahead of the vote, while union opponents targeted employees who they thought could be persuaded to vote no.

“I’m disappointed in the people that flipped and believed the persuaders,” Garner said.

The loss slows the UAW’s effort to organize 150,000 workers at more than a dozen nonunion auto factories largely in the South.

The voting at the two Mercedes factories comes a month after the UAW scored a breakthrough victory at Volkswagen’s assembly factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee.


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