Mercedes-Benz Tries to Use Jesus for Union-Busting

Mercedes-Benz (ETR: MBG) has recruited Reverend Matthew Wilson, a pastor from Marion, Alabama, to dissuade workers at its Tuscaloosa factory complex and electric battery plant from joining the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. 

As the 5,200 employees began voting on Monday on whether to unionize, they were met with a company text message that tried to remind them about the importance of keeping work separate from community and family… and more than suggested that a union would have a negative impact beyond the plant walls.

The union drive at Mercedes-Benz is fueled by a culmination of grievances, including the pandemic, the introduction of a tier-two wage system, and the layoffs of temporary workers who were promised permanent positions. Rev. Wilson’s involvement in the anti-union campaign has of course raised eyebrows, with some pointing out that large corporations often rely on church leaders to preach an anti-union message in exchange for financial support.

The UAW has filed six charges against Mercedes-Benz for various anti-union practices, including disciplining employees for discussing unionization, banning the distribution of union materials, and making statements suggesting that union activity is futile. 

Flashback: UAW Launches Ambitious Campaign to Unionize 13 Major Automakers Across the US

Rev. Wilson’s personal interactions with pro-union workers on the assembly line have also been called into question, with some employees reporting that he disparaged civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and attempted to instill fear about the financial consequences of striking.

“Martin Luther King was an elitist classist who did not care about the average American,” Rev. Wilson told Detrick Lewis, a veteran employee who has been working on the assembly line in the body shop at Mercedes-Benz since 2014. He had asked the reverend how he felt about Martin Luther King, Jr.

Despite the company’s efforts, many workers remain committed to the union cause, citing recent successes at other auto plants, such as the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where workers voted to join the UAW. The election at Mercedes-Benz runs through May 17, with the vote count scheduled for 9:45 a.m. Central time.

Information for this story was found via Labor Notes, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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