Question: When do you know a union trying to unionize a group of workers has worn out its welcome?
Answer: When the union’s supporters tell the union to go away.
A mere four months after the United Auto Workers’ devastating defeat at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, pro-union workers at Mercedes-Benz’s plant in Alabama want the UAW to go away.
While the UAW had had more than the minimum amount of signed union authorization cards to file for an NLRB election, according to the union supporters, the union refused to file for an election—wanting a super majority (65%) of signed cards before filing.
Now, reports AL.com, many of the union’s cards have expired. This means that the UAW’s supporters must begin re-signing employees whose signatures have gone stale.
This seems to have the now-ex UAW supporters abandoning the UAW’s effort and ready to opt for a different union, including the International Association of Machinists.
“This has gone on for two-and-half years, and people are burnt out,” said Kirk Garner, a 13-year Mercedes employee and union supporter. “It’s over.”
Garner and Jim Spitzley, another longtime employee, have been key spokesmen for pro-union employees, and they have worked closely with the UAW on the campaign.
But they have grown increasingly frustrated with the UAW’s failure to file for an election.
At one point, the men say, the campaign had enough union authorization cards to legally file for an election, as more than 30 percent of the plant’s hourly production and maintenance workers had signed one.
But the UAW was pushing for a much higher percentage, 65 percent, because it wanted a sure win, they said.
“It’s all about the image with the UAW, and it’s not about the workers,” Spitzley said.
“We’re dedicated to the cause of furthering workers’ rights,” Garner said. “We just don’t want to do it with the UAW.”
Although the AFL-CIO—the federation comprised of 56 unions—has given the UAW jurisdiction over the auto industry (which makes the Machinists’ union an unlikely replacement), there are multiple unaffiliated unions that are not bound by the AFL-CIO’s jurisdictional standards.