Employees at Alabama Mercedes plants vote 56% against union, slowing UAW effort in South

If the union had won, it would have been a huge momentum booster for the UAW as it seeks to organize more factories, said Marick Masters, a professor emeritus at Wayne State University’s business school who has long studied the union.

Interviewed before the results were in, Masters said he expected that even a loss would not stop the UAW leadership, which he said would likely explore legal options. That could include arguing to the National Labor Relations Board that Mercedes’ actions made it impossible for union representation to receive a fair election.

Though the loss is a setback for the UAW, Masters suggested it would not deal a fatal blow to its membership drive. The union will have to analyze why it couldn’t garner more than 50% of the vote, given its statement that a “supermajority” of workers signed cards authorizing an election, Masters said. The UAW wouldn’t say what percentage or how many workers signed up.

The loss could lead workers at other nonunion plants to wonder why Mercedes employees voted against the union. But Masters said he doesn’t think it will slow down the union.

“I would expect them to intensify their efforts, to try to be more thoughtful and see what went wrong,” he said.

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