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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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Democrats consolidate support behind Vice President Harris, Republicans threaten legal action over changes to the presidential ticket, and a possible bipartisan consensus forms on the failure of the Secret Service to protect former President Trump.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

UAW challenges election loss at Alabama Mercedes-Benz factories

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Wednesday, May 29, 2024   

The United Auto Workers union continues the fight to add workers at two Alabama Mercedes-Benz plants in Vance and Woodstock to its union rolls.

Despite losing the union election by a narrow margin this month, the UAW has accused the automaker of misconduct and is seeking a new election. The union has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging the company illegally intimidated workers into voting against the union.

Shawn Fain, president of the UAW, alleged the company interfered in the organizing process.

"This company engaged in egregious, illegal behavior," Fain said. "The federal government and the German government are currently investigating Mercedes for the intimidation and harassment that they inflicted on their own workers."

The objections are being reviewed by the regional director of the labor relations board, who has the authority to order a hearing. If it is determined the employer's actions influenced the election, a new vote may be ordered.

Gov. Kay Ivey has said the plant workers have made their voices heard and the UAW should respect the outcome. Ivey and other southern governors have opposed efforts to unionize, saying direct relationships between workers and employers foster better work environments.

In the recent publication "Labor Notes," Mercedes worker Jeremy Kimbrell outlined allegations of union-busting activities, including sending anti-union messages, holding so-called "captive audience" meetings and playing anti-union videos.

Despite the loss, Fain acknowledged some victories achieved through the union's campaign. He highlights pay increases secured through the UAW's efforts, the elimination of wage tiers and the appointment of a new CEO. However, Fain thinks more could be done to improve working conditions at the plants.

"It's about getting our lives back, getting our times back, and having dignity on the job," Fain outlined. "The only path to do that, the only vehicle for that, is with a union contract."

Following last year's victories at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, the UAW has pledged $40 million to focus on organizing efforts in the South.

In the meantime, Gov. Ivey signed Senate Bill 231 into law, which mandates unions can only be formed through secret ballots. Companies voluntarily recognizing unions without the secret ballot risk losing state incentives.


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