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| 1 minute read

UAW Stalls in Alabama as Mercedes-Benz Workers Vote Against Joining Union

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union suffered a major blow to its drive for membership in the Southeast as Mercedes-Benz workers in Alabama voted against union representation. More than 90 percent of the 5,075 eligible Mercedes employees participated in the election, with 2,642 workers, or 56 percent, casting ballots against the UAW.

This win for Mercedes-Benz stands out within the broader context of the historic explosion in union election petitions and unfair labor practice charges received by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) since 2021. It also bucks the current trend of union wins – including the perceived “wins” of the UAW’s strikes at the Big Three last summer and the ongoing organizing drive at Starbucks.

Assuming the win stands, this may signal union numbers  in terms of “new members” will remain stagnant. Even with the Starbucks campaign and recent union certifications at big name companies like Trader Joe’s and REI, private sector union membership remains at a mere 6 percent. Although gaining an additional 5,000 members alone wouldn’t have reversed the decades-long decline in union membership – which hit a 40-year low in 2023 – the loss did no favors for union campaigners spinning their wheels in the Southeast, a region composed exclusively of states below the national average for union membership. To the contrary, Mercedes-Benz’s win may halt what little momentum unions have left in these states.

UAW President Shawn Fain lashed out immediately after the NLRB announced the results, accusing Mercedes-Benz of conducting an anti-union campaign. Shortly thereafter, the UAW submitted its objections to the NLRB, challenging the election results and demanding officials to order a new election.

Because the UAW has filed these objections, there is a chance the NLRB could vacate Mercedes-Benz’s win. In the wake of the NLRB’s decision in Cemex, a reversal could be especially groundbreaking. Under a new standard from the NLRB, if violations are found, instead of ordering a new election, the NLRB may order Mercedes-Benz to recognize and bargain with the union. 

A reversal of an election and a bargaining order at a bargaining unit of this size – with over 2,600 employees voting against representation – would be a big development under the new standard. 

We'll see if the Mercedes-Benz win stands and whether national union membership continues to stagnate. Stay tuned.


After the results were announced, UAW President Shawn Fain accused the company of conducting an anti-union campaign, including “egregious illegal behavior,” but he declined to discuss the union’s potential plans to object to the results.


labor and employment