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Gov. Ivey, BCA, labor react to UAW loss at Mercedes

Gov. Kay Ivey and business leaders celebrated the outcome.

Governor Kay Ivey was keynote speaker to the Warrior-Tombigbee Waterway Association Luncheon at Period Beach Resort Thursday May 16, 2024 in Orange Beach, Ala. Governor’s Office /Hal Yeager
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In a significant defeat for the United Auto Workers (UAW), employees at the Mercedes-Benz facility in Vance, Alabama, voted against unionization by a margin of 597 votes. The closely watched election concluded a week-long campaign that drew responses from various political and business leaders.

Gov. Kay Ivey celebrated the outcome.

“The workers in Vance have spoken, and they have spoken clearly! Alabama is not Michigan, and we are not the Sweet Home to the UAW,” Ivey said. “We urge the UAW to respect the results of this secret ballot election. I am proud Alabama is home to some of the greatest automakers in the world, and I am grateful to these companies who provide good pay, benefits, and opportunities to many men and women across our state.”

She added: “As I have said, automotive manufacturing is one of Alabama’s crown jewel industries and number one in the country, and we are committed to keeping it that way.”

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) also expressed satisfaction with the election results. Helena Duncan, BCA president and CEO, issued a statement thanking Ivey for her support: “Today, after the conclusion of a week-long election at Mercedes, I am proud to say that BCA and our allies were successful in our efforts to keep the UAW out of Alabama. I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Governor Kay Ivey for her support and commitment to the prosperity of our state. When the Governor speaks, Alabama listens, and this victory would not be possible without her leadership.”

Duncan added: “The employees at the Mercedes facility in Vance have spoken, and the right to work without strong-arm influence or undue pressure from the UAW has carried the day. These results ensure that our state’s economic development and industrial recruitment efforts will continue to grow, and Alabamians will have more jobs, prosperity, and opportunities as a result.”

Not all reactions were celebratory.

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AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler voiced strong support for the UAW and criticized the tactics used against the unionization effort.

“Today, the entire AFL-CIO family stands with the workers and organizers in Tuscaloosa. They put their heart and soul into the fight to join a union, resisting every union-busting tactic in the book—and they made huge strides,” Shuler said. “During this campaign, Mercedes claimed to be neutral—but they were anything but. They held captive-audience meetings where they propagated lies and threats, fired their U.S. CEO and brought in a pastor to dissuade workers from joining the union. Gov. Kay Ivey and her anti-worker corporate allies fought this vote tooth and nail.”

Shuler emphasized the broader implications of the vote and the continued struggle for worker rights in the South.

“That obstruction is part of a long oppressive history in the South, from slavery to Jim Crow ‘right to work’ laws to prison labor. But today, young, Black, Brown, and women workers in the South are writing a new chapter and building a new economy—one that lifts up workers rather than exploits them,” she said.

“The entire labor movement sends a clear message to Mercedes workers today: We have your back. We are investing resources to support new organizing and infrastructure to build power with workers and communities to deliver for families across the South. We will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Mercedes workers, UAW and President Shawn Fain as they move forward,” Shuler concluded.

The outcome of the union election at Mercedes-Benz in Vance underscores the ongoing debate over unionization in the South and highlights the deep divisions between labor advocates and business interests in the region.

The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

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