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Gov: Unions Not Needed At Mercedes-Benz Plant

Tue, 07/02/2013 - 10:17am
The Associated Press

VANCE, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance does not need a union.

His comments from a visit to the Tuscaloosa County plant last week are the most pointed public ones to date from a state official about the United Auto Workers' aggressive campaign, Al.com reported Monday (http://bit.ly/117nSWb ).

The governor was at the Tuscaloosa County plant last week for a sendoff of its president and chief executive, Markus Schaefer, who is taking an executive role at the automaker's headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.

Bentley said after the event that the plant is a close-knit organization that works well together as a team.

"I really don't believe they have any need for unionization and an intermediary between them and management," Bentley said in an interview. "I don't think it's going to happen."

The governor added that Alabama's status as a state with a right-to-work law helps him recruit new business.

The union campaign, supported by the German union IG Metall, is attempting to organize the plant's 3,000 workers as the auto factory adds new products and expands capacity.

Supporters say a desire for a better pension plan, work schedules and improved ergonomics are among the key issues. Workers opposed to the union campaign have launched their own website, www.uawno.org.

The UAW has a similar campaign under way at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.; and the Nissan plant in Canton, Miss.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has voiced similar sentiments about efforts to unionize the Volkswagen plant.

"We've heard that from some of the other people considering Tennessee, that that would be a negative in their mind if that happened in Chattanooga," the Republican governor told reporters last week. "So we've communicated that to Volkswagen."

Haslam said he doesn't expect "some big showdown" over the issue as the state tries to persuade the German automaker to expand production at the plant.

"But we've made it clear to them that as other manufacturers are talking about moving to Tennessee, they do say that's a big question mark to them," he said.

Workers at the General Motors plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., are represented by the UAW.

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