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Mercedes workers stand up!

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2 May, 2024On 13-17 May, workers at the Mercedes plant in Alabama, USA - the only Mercedes plant in the world without union representation - will for the first time vote for a union. According to US legislation, it takes a majority of the workforce to vote in favour of an election for it to take place. In a blatant show of disrespect for democracy and fundamental workers’ rights, the employer is engaging in heavy, scare-mongering union busting to influence the upcoming vote.

Union busters are using ads implying that the establishment of a union will mean that the jobs will move out of state, urging workers to “think about the consequences” of saying yes to a union. On its website, MBUSI workers’ information committee claims to “educate employees about the radical and self-serving agenda of the UAW”. The message projected is clear: we are one big family for now, but with a vote for the UAW, we won’t be.

Says IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie:

"The family seems to be a big company argument against the union. But workers should remember that the family the company is talking about is a patriarchal one where the father takes in all the money and gives as little as possible to his subjects. The company knows that with a union they would have to bargain with a more powerful workforce on the distribution of the money earned. Of course they don’t want a union, they want the money. This has nothing to do with family. A family is a unit that cares for you and that sees to it that you have your fair share. The company approach is deplorable and not in the interest of workers in any way."

The vote in Alabama follows on the successful win at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga in April, when it became the first plant in the US South to unionize via an election since the 1940s.

And in another victory showing what a difference a union makes, on 26 April, UAW reached a tentative agreement with Daimler Truck, including a 25 per cent general wage increase over four years and for the first time profit-sharing and cost-of-living adjustments.

“Success breeds success; the workers in Chattanooga fought hard for their win and succeeded. They were the last Volkswagen plant in the world to unionize but will now have a voice in the workplace. Turning the tide in the traditionally anti-union US South, we are supporting the workers at Mercedes in Alabama, in their vote later this month,”

says Atle Høie.