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‘Ready To Win’: Mercedes-Benz Workers in Alabama Move To Join UAW

"We're here to tell you that we are the majority. Mercedes workers are ready to stand up."

Workers protest during recent UAW strike.,Cydni Elledge for The New York Times

The United Auto Workers announced Tuesday that a majority of the approximately 6,000 workers at a Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, Alabama have indicated they support joining the union.

That's the largest Mercedes-Benz plant in the U.S., and getting more than half of its employees to sign union cards is a major win for the UAW.

"We're here today to make a major announcement. A majority of our co-workers at Mercedes here in Alabama have signed our union cards and are ready to win our union and a better life with the UAW," Mercedes worker Jeremy Kimbrell said in a statement. "We haven't taken this step lightly. For years, we've fallen further behind while Mercedes has made billions."

Kimbrell cited insufficient wage increases and the abuse of temporary workers as reasons the plant should be unionized. Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee achieved majority support for joining the UAW earlier this month. This indicates the UAW is making gains in the South, which has historically been a difficult task.

The UAW has been working hard to fight for autoworkers and expand the union over the past year, and it was able to get improved contracts with the "Big Three" auto companies—Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis—after a six-week strike last year.

President Joe Biden even became the first sitting U.S. president to join striking workers on a picket line. The UAW later went on to endorse Biden for reelection and declare that former President Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee, is a "scab."

Rather than slowing its efforts to improve conditions for autoworkers after its win with the Big Three, the UAW instead proceeded to launch "the largest organizing drive in modern American history." The union clearly has momentum and no plans to stop its fight for workers' rights, and the Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama achieving majority support for unionization is just the latest example.

"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."

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Thor Benson is a staff writer for Common Dreams.