Laborers at Tuscaloosa's Mercedes Benz U.S. International plant appear to have voted against joining the United Auto Workers, according to unofficial results counted Friday afternoon, dealing a blow to the union after a string of victories.

Successful strikes at the Detroit "Big Three" and beyond last year led to better contracts for more than 100,000 workers and sparked a UAW push to expand into the previously impenetrable Deep South.

Last month, that momentum led to a successful vote at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., where an overwhelming 73 percent of workers voted to join the UAW.

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The union seemed poised to win the vote here in Tuscaloosa after quickly getting a supermajority of workers to sign interest cards earlier this year. Still, a counter-push from Mercedes, the hiring of a new CEO and a barrage of messaging from politicians at the local and state level appear to have swayed enough workers to doom the vote this week.

The Mercedes vote was a secret ballot conducted by the National Labor Relations Board all week long, with polling locations all over the plant accepting votes since Monday.

Voting ended at 9:45 Friday morning, and a count began around 1 p.m. after all ballots were collected from seven polling locations across the plant's assembly areas, body shop, paint shop and battery plant.

Results were posted in real-time on the UAW's website, and as batch after batch of votes was posted, the yes votes never had the lead - votes against joining the union prevailed around 55 percent to 45 percent all afternoon.

With roughly 5,100 total eligible voters at MBUSI, it was clear the votes against UAW prevailed just after 2:30 p.m. when results showed 2,600 votes against and just over 2,000 votes for unionizing.


UAW President Shawn Fain is expected to address media and UAW supporters at the Highway 11 HQ on Friday afternoon.

For more as it becomes available, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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