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Mercedes Workers in Alabama Vote Against Union Formation: What’s Next for UAW?

Daniel Kim Views  

Predictions have emerged that the momentum of the United Auto Workers (UAW) Union, which is seeking to expand its presence at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, a Hyundai Motor’s overseas plant, may be dampened following the failed unionization attempt at Mercedes-Benz’s U.S. factory.

According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the U.S., a vote held on the 17th to determine the fate of union formation at two Mercedes-Benz factories in Alabama revealed that 2,642 workers, more than half of the total workers, voted against unionization.

The New York Times interpreted this as a sign of growing resistance to auto unions in the southern states, a Republican stronghold.

Six southern Republican governors, including Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, have announced an open letter discouraging workers from joining unions. They warn that union formation could drive automotive jobs away from their regions.

Bloomberg reported that this regional sentiment and the UAW’s failure at the Mercedes-Benz factory could dampen the union’s momentum at the nearby Hyundai plant in Alabama.

Therefore, it is predicted that there will be difficulties in forming additional unions at the Hyundai Alabama plant.

Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, predicted that organizing a union at the Hyundai plant would be much more difficult than at the Mercedes-Benz factory.

Gordon stated, “Korean carmakers have a more adversarial relationship with unions than their German counterparts,” and added, “Korean companies are less accustomed to sitting at the same table with unions.”

Previously, the UAW staged unprecedented simultaneous strikes at General Motors, Ford, Stellantis, and other U.S. automakers, which resulted in a 25 % wage increase over four years.

The UAW began a campaign to encourage union membership among 150,000 workers across 13 non-unionized companies, including Hyundai, Toyota, and Honda.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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