Workers at Tuscaloosa County's Mercedes-Benz U.S. International plant and the nearby battery plant in Woodstock are accusing the German automaker of illegal union-busting tactics as a push to join the United Auto Workers continues to heat up.

A spokesperson for the union shared the news Tuesday morning and said workers have filed multiple federal charges with the National Labor Relations Board, reportedly "in response to the company’s aggressive and illegal union-busting."

The workers seek an injection from the NLRB which would stop MBUSI from allegedly retaliating against employees who are vocal supporters of unionizing.

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Several shared their names and stories in a Tuesday press release detailing their allegations.

“Since we started organizing, I put in my FMLA leave with management multiple times and every time they said they lost the paperwork,” said Lakeisha Carter, a Mercedes employee in the battery plant. “I’m an outspoken union supporter and Mercedes illegally disciplined me for medical absences that were clearly covered by my FMLA requests. It’s just plain retaliation from Mercedes, but I’m not going to be intimidated.”

Al Ezell, who also works in the Mercedes battery plant, reportedly has stage 4 lung cancer and supply chain issues have made it difficult for him to receive his medication. He claims he was given special permission to have his phone on the factory floor in case his doctor called him about refilling his prescription.

“Management called me into the office to discipline me for having my phone on the floor. My manager looked me in the face and told me she didn’t care that I have cancer or that I had permission, she was going to enforce the company’s zero-tolerance policy,” said Ezell. “We’ve never had a zero-tolerance policy for having a phone on the floor. Management is just trying to scare us, but we won’t back down.”

A third employee at the battery plant, Taylor Snipes, said in the press release that pro-union worker are belittled.

“Mercedes is forcing me and my coworkers to attend meetings and watch anti-union videos that are full of lies,” said Snipes. “I finally had enough and asked my group leader if I had to watch the video and he treated me like a child, telling me I either had to watch the video or put my head down on the desk.”

Snipes says he was made to meet with Mercedes management and fired the same day for having his phone on the factory floor - this despite him allegedly getting permission to have his phone on the floor so he could check for messages from his child’s day care center.

“During the meeting, I told management that it was suspicious that I was being called into the office on the same day that I spoke up in anti-union meeting,” said Snipes. “My manager said the two had nothing to do with one another, but then proceeded to aggressively interrogate me about why I support having a union.”

All three workers vocally support the unionization effort and claim Mercedes is punishing them for it.

For more from the plant and the UAW as they continue to skirmish, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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