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Mercedes Benz workers announce majority support for unionization

The announcement comes a month after workers at the plant initially declared their campaign to unionize.

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Workers at the Mercedes Benz plant in Vance, announced today that a majority of workers have signed union cards marking serious advancement in the campaign to join the United Auto Workers (UAW).

The announcement comes a month after workers at the plant initially declared their campaign to unionize. As part of the announcement a video was released with one worker, Jeremy Kimbrell, explaining why the workers are steadfast in winning their union and a, “better life with UAW.”

Kimbrell stated that for years workers have endured measly gains in benefits and wages like a 42 cent raise over six years while the company has raked in record profits. Kimbrell also noted how the company’s poor treatment of their co-workers and imposition of a two-tiered pay scaled gave them the realization that, “we can’t trust Mercedes with our best interests.”

“There comes a time when enough is enough,” Kimbrell said. “Now is that time. We know what the company, what the politicians, and what their multi-millionaire buddies will say. They’ll say now is not the right time. Or that this is not the right way. But here’s the thing. This is our decision. It’s our life. It’s our community. These are our families. It’s up to us.” 

Since the initial announcement last month by Mercedes Benz workers another facility in Alabama, Hyundai, announced that the workers were also seeking to join the UAW. These unionization campaigns have been denounced by several political figures and individuals aligned with the business interests in the state, including Gov. Kay Ivey and President of the Business Council of Alabama Helena Duncan. These critiques have insinuated that these unionization drives are being initiated by out of state actors. 

Kimbrell stated that this decision to unionize by the workers was their decision alone as they are “exercising our right to fight for a better life.”

The full announcement can be read below:

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“We’re here today to make a major announcement. A majority of our coworkers at Mercedes here in Alabama have signed our union cards and are ready to win our union and a better life with the UAW. We haven’t taken this step lightly. For years, we’ve fallen further behind while Mercedes has made billions. After 2008 and 2009, some of our coworkers were forced to leave the company. Consecutive CEOs said they’d be brought back once things improved. Things did improve, but they were never allowed to return and were replaced within six months by temporary workers at half the pay. These same temporary workers then worked for up to eight years before receiving full-time jobs. Also, during this time, our management gave us a 42 cent raise over a six-year period while making record profits. And these same record profits weren’t enough to prevent Mercedes from imposing an unfair two-tier pay scale just as our children were entering the workforce. We’ve learned that we can’t trust Mercedes with our best interests. There comes a time when enough is enough. Now is that time. We know what the company, what the politicians, and what their multi-millionaire buddies will say. They’ll say now is not the right time. That this is not the right way. But here’s the thing. This is our decision. It’s our life. It’s our community. These are our families. It’s up to us. It’s not up to Mercedes management or any politician or anyone else. We’re exercising our right to fight for a better life. And we won’t stop until we’ve made things right for the workers who build the cars and make the company run. We organized our plant by ourselves. We are our union. So, we’re here to tell you that we are the majority. That Mercedes workers are ready to stand up. And we’re asking all of you watching this, whether you’re an autoworker at Mercedes or just someone who believes in a better life for working class people in Alabama and beyond: stand with us. Support our cause and join our movement.”

As they continue exercising this right, there will also be rampant opposition and union-busting that seeks to halt this momentum by the workers.

Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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