The push of autoworkers across America to get better contracts for workers through unionizing has made its way to Tuscaloosa as the majority of workers at Mercedes Benz U.S. International have reportedly signed cards in support of joining the United Auto Workers.

The Tuesday morning announcement comes on the heels of the union's 2023 Stand Up Strike, which ultimately led to improved contracts for workers at each of the Detroit "Big 3" - Chrysler, Ford and General Motors.

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UAW representatives said the victories they achieved last year have led to efforts to vastly expand their membership, especially here in the south. Less than three weeks ago, the majority of workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga signed cards.

Back in January, the UAW said more than 30 percent of the MBUSI workforce had signed union cards.

Now, a month and a half later, they say they have passed another milestone and a majority of the plant's roughly 6,300 employees have signed a union authorization card.

"A majority of our coworkers at Mercedes here in Alabama have signed our union cards and are ready to win our union and a better life with the UAW," said MBUSI worker Jeremy Kimbrell in a video released Tuesday. "We haven't taken this step lightly. For years, we have fallen further behind while Mercedes has made billions."

"These same record profits weren't enough to prevent Mercedes from imposing an unfair two-tier pay scale just as our children were entering the workforce," Kimbrell said. "We've learned that we can't trust Mercedes with our best interests."

According to UAW literature, this means step two of their 30-50-70 strategy has been accomplished in Tuscaloosa.

"When 30% of us sign cards in our plant, our Volunteer Organizing Committee (VOC) will publicly announce that we are forming a union. When 50% have signed cards, we will hold a big rally with our co-workers, UAW President Shawn Fain, community leaders, and other allies showing that a majority of us are willing to fight for our union," the UAW says on their website. "When 70% of us have signed cards, and we have a VOC from every department, line and shift, we will demand the company recognize our union – or take it to a vote, and win."

The effort has drawn opposition from government leaders, like Governor Kay Ivey, who wrote a long argument against Alabama autoworkers unionizing last month.

"Unfortunately, the Alabama model for economic success is under attack. A national labor union, the United Automotive Workers, is ramping up efforts to target non-union automakers throughout the United States, including ours here in Alabama," Ivey wrote. "Make no mistake about it: These are out-of-state special interest groups, and their special interests do not include Alabama or the men and women earning a career in Alabama’s automotive industry."

So far, half the workers at MBUSI have indicated they may disagree with Ivey - for more from the union, Mercedes and local leaders, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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