UAW Poised to Gain Foothold in Alabama

Posted by Tucker Nelson on Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 at 10:42 am - Permalink

In the wake of the United Auto Workers union’s failed attempts to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, many people believe the UAW has turned their attention to Vance, Alabama, home to the Mercedes-Benz plant.

However, Alabamians need to be aware that the UAW is making moves outside of Vance. This time they have called for a union vote at the Renosol Plant in Selma, Alabama for June 19th-20th .

The Renosol plant produces car seats for Hyundai, and has been under attack by workers in the plant that are claiming poor working conditions and unfair pay practices. Employees at the plant are claiming that they had been exposed to toxic chemicals on more than one occasion, making them ill. A national UAW representative said in a statement that “There’s credible evidence that workers’ health continues to be in danger at this Hyundai plant. It’s no wonder they’re joining together.”

It is clear the union is using these allegations as justification for its presence in the plant.

Alabama is a huge target for the UAW, being the fourth in overall vehicle exports in the country. The Renosol plant may not be as big of a whale for the UAW as Mercedes-Benz in Vance, but a small plant like Renosol (90 employees) makes for a small achievable goal in a time when the union desperately needs a victory.

The Renosol push comes after many pro-union employees at Mercedes are calling for the UAW to back down from its fight in Vance. Mercedes-Benz employees who were once in support of the union are claiming the UAW has spent too long trying to organize and they are fed up.

 “This has gone on for two-and-half years, and people are burnt out….It's over," said veteran employee at Mercedes, Kirk Garner.

As the UAW is trying to gain traction in the South, even this small manufacturing plant can help them gain a foothold. The Selma Times Journal reported that, “Greg Canfield, Alabama’s Department of Commerce Secretary, said successful unionization could provide the UAW with a much needed entry point into the state’s auto manufacturing industry.”

The union is scrappy; it’s not going to let the loss in Chattanooga, or the lack of its support in Vance, detour them from its goals.  

The goal: unionization of the Southern manufacturing sector.