Major Auto Union Handed Huge Defeat By Alabama Workers

President Joe Biden walks along the UAW picket line and engages with union members at the GM Willow Run Distribution Center, Tuesday, September 26, 2023, in Belleville, Michigan. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

Workers at a Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, Alabama, voted against unionizing in a major setback for the United Auto Workers (UAW).

Autoworkers at the plant voted just 44% in favor of unionizing under the UAW and 56% against, with more than 4,600 votes cast, according to preliminary results released by the union Friday. The loss by the UAW threatens the union’s plan to expand into many of the currently non-unionized auto plants in the U.S., particularly in the South, that have traditionally resisted unionization.

“Polling here in Alabama and in Tennessee show people supported the UAW by a two to one margin,” UAW President Shawn Fawn said in a statement following the vote. “But with weak labor laws in place, sometimes the companies are able to turn those numbers around. The UAW will continue to lead the fight against corporate greed and runaway inequality. And through that fight we’ll change the nation and the world for the better. While this loss stings, these workers keep their heads held high. We fight the good fight and continue forward.

The UAW had hoped to win the election after successfully unionizing a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in April, with some believing the vote could set off a chain reaction in the South. The union announced in February that it was committing $40 million in new funds through 2026 to support unionization efforts across the country and boasted that it had already had many workers sign cards pledging to support the UAW.

 

“The workers in Vance have spoken, and they have spoken clearly!” Republican Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a post on X following the vote. “Alabama is not Michigan, and we are not the Sweet Home to the UAW. We urge the UAW to respect the results of this secret ballot election.”

The UAW started its unionization campaign following a big win in its contract negotiations with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis near the end of 2023, which came as the result of a six-week strike with walk-outs at over 40 different facilities. The union negotiated huge pay increases as well as greater benefits like cost-of-living adjustment for workers.

In April, the governors of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas issued a joint statement expressing their concern about the unionization campaign, claiming it was being driven by misinformation and scare tactics.

The National Labor Relations Board is currently investigating six claims of labor violations filed by the UAW leading up to the vote, according to CNN. The UAW alleges that management at the plant disciplined employees over talking about unionization, illegally distributed anti-union materials, monitored employees and more.

The UAW did not immediately respond to a request to comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.


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