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Consequences around Mercedes Union Busting

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Mercedes has engaged in large-scale union busting around the United Auto Workers campaign to unionize its Alabama plant. As the vote wraps up today, international labor solidarity means Mercedes may face consequences back home in Germany.

The German government is investigating Mercedes-Benz for union-busting an American unionization drive, the United Auto Workers (UAW) said Thursday. The union has been campaigning to represent workers at the automaker’s Vance, Alabama plant. Employees at the location are currently voting on the matter, and their ballots will be tallied tomorrow.

“Mercedes-Benz’s aggressive anti-union campaign against U.S. autoworkers in Alabama is a clear human rights violation under the German Act on Corporate Due Diligence Obligations in Supply Chains,” the UAW said in a statement.

The union drive, which has seen a majority of workers in the facility sign cards indicating their interest in representation, has been fraught. The UAW filed charges last month in German court against the Stuttgart-based automaker for violating labor standards with its anti-union communications and actions. One Mercedes worker, who has stage 4 lung cancer, says he was fired for violating company rules under thin evidence as retaliation for his union support.

Mercedes said in a statement that it “has not interfered with or retaliated against any Team Member in their right to pursue union representation” and added that it is “fully cooperating with the authorities.”

Given the nature of the German government today, I’m not super confident here, but at least there is pressure and legitimate anger in at least parts of the German power structure.

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