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Transition to EVs: a Win for Climate; Let’s Make it a Win for US Workers

By Don Anair - The Equation, October 24, 2023

A global transition to electric transportation is underway and momentum is growing. Traditional and new auto manufacturers are bringing more and more models to market. Even in California, where a tradition of stringent regulation has pushed the industry to innovate over the past 50 years, automakers are selling EVs at levels well above sales requirements. This momentum is spreading across the country with US EV sales now over 9% and climbing.

When a change as big as this is underway, it’s important to understand what impact it can have on employment and to take steps to ensure that workers benefit from the transition and aren’t left behind.

But what is the outlook for jobs in an electric transportation future? Can the EV transition support good, family- and community-supporting jobs and support a strong US economy?  The fundamentals show there’s reason to be optimistic.

'We'll Be Back,' Says UAW Chief Shawn Fain After 'Tough Loss' in Alabama

By Jessica Corbett - Common Dreams, May 17, 2024

Organizers are expected to continue their effort, drawing inspiration from a recent success in Tennessee that followed two defeats.

Workers at a pair of Mercedes-Benz plants near Tuscaloosa, Alabama narrowly voted against joining the United Auto Workers this week, according to a preliminary tally on Friday.

As of press time, the UAW webpage had the National Labor Relations Board tally at 2,045 in favor of joining the union (45%) and 2,642 opposed (56%).

Voting at the large facility in Vance and the battery plant in Woodstock kicked off Monday and wrapped up Friday morning. Speaking to reporters Friday evening, UAW president Shawn Fain said that it was "obviously not the result we wanted" but "we'll be back in Vance."

"These courageous workers reached out to us because they wanted justice," Fain said of the Mercedes employees. "They led us. They led this fight, and that's what this is all about—and what happens next is up to them."

"Justice isn't just about one vote or one campaign, it's about getting a voice and getting your fair share," he continued, noting that "workers won serious gains in this campaign."

Fain added that "it's a David v. Goliath fight. Sometimes Goliath wins a battle but ultimately David will win the war."

The Alabama election followed a UAW win in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Volkswagen workers last month voted to join the union.

Labor reporter Mike Elk noted that the "tough loss" in Alabama was "not a blowout," and organizers now have "a solid base that future campaigns can build on like they did at Volkswagen," where winning a union election took three rounds of voting.

Work Sucks, We Should Do It Less

By Sarah Jaffe, Union Jake, and Adam Keller - Valley Labor Report, May 31, 2024

Culture Doesn’t Explain Why Alabama Mercedes Workers Didn’t Unionize

Railroad Worker Unity, Challenging Craft Unionism, and Railroad Workers United 2022 Vote No Campaign

UAW Demands Rerun After EGREGIOUS Law Breaking by Mercedes

UAW Local 869 Threatens to STRIKE Over Safety

Why the Alabama Mercedes Union Campaign Faltered

By Jeremy Kimbrell - Labor Notes, May 21, 2024

I’m still hot as hell three days after losing a union election at the Mercedes factory complex in Alabama. After years of laying a foundation and six months of 100 percent dedication and putting everything on hold, it’s a tough pill to swallow—losing by 597 votes out of 5,000. That’s especially hard when a large majority of workers had committed to vote yes, but some flipped in the closing weeks.

It’ll take time to know everything that went wrong or what exactly led to the loss, but while things are fresh on my mind, I’ll share a few thoughts. I’ve worked at Mercedes for nearly 25 years and have been part of multiple efforts over those years to build a union. This was the first time we got to a National Labor Relations Board-supervised election on whether to unionize.

Until you go to an election, you can’t understand what it entails or what your company will do. We never really knew how many workers we had. We never really knew which workers would be included or excluded, including students, temps, or contractors.

Now we have a list with every employee on it that we never had before. And while these workers will now have to claim some ownership of every decision the company makes that impacts them, should the company end up lying—as I expect it will—we’ll be able to quickly capitalize on it and remind these workers that with a union contract we don’t have to trust in the company. We’ll have it writing.

Learning the Right Lessons From the UAW Loss in Alabama

By Jane McAlevey - The Nation, May 21, 2024

Mercedes put on an “A-level boss fight.” Which was only to be expected. So how can the union win next time?

Late last Friday afternoon, Shawn Fain, president of the UAW, addressed workers at the Mercedes SUV plant in Vance, Alabama, after the union failed in a representation election (2,054 votes in favor, 2,642 against) many had expected them to win. He told them, “Justice isn’t about one vote or one campaign. It’s about getting a voice, getting your fair share.”

When Fain was sworn in as president on March 26, 2023—after winning the first direct election for the UAW presidency by just 477 votes—the challenges were monumental. He had national negotiations for the Big Three automakers coming up in less than six months and an organization plagued by decades of corruption. The union was burdened with staff used to taking the easy way out, allowing members’ contracts to worsen as its leadership indulged in fancy cigars, fine hotels, and gourmet food.

In the 14 months since his election, Fain has made remarkable headway. He launched a bold strategy in the Big Three negotiations—the stand-up strike—which resulted in significant gains. Next came the North Carolina Daimler truck negotiations for plants in North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, and the decisive unionization win at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. His intrepid leadership reaches far beyond the union and has uplifted the entire progressive movement.

Perhaps for that reason, the VW victory raised expectations that the UAW could win in Alabama. But Alabama isn’t Tennessee. Alabama’s top business, political, and community leadership are so hostile to unions that they implemented every nefarious tactic in the 1993 book by the notorious union buster Martin J. Levitt, Confessions of a Union Buster. In it, Levitt outlined a campaign just like the one headed by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. “The enemy was the collective spirit,” Levitt writes. “I got a hold of that spirit and while it was a seedling; I poisoned it, choked it, bludgeoned it if I had to, anything to be sure it would never blossom into a united workforce.” He forthrightly admitted that anti-union consultants are “terrorists…. as the consultants go about the business of destroying unions, they invade people’s lives, demolish their friendships, crush their will, and shatter families.”

How Mercedes Flipped Union Supporters to No Voters

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