Glenn Spencer Glenn Spencer
Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


May 28, 2024


On May 17, the United Auto Workers (UAW) lost an election at the Mercedes plant in Vance, Alabama.  The vote was 56%-44%, a fairly sizable margin.  However, the UAW immediately did what unions typically do when workers say “no” — they asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to throw out the election and give them a do-over.

The way unions seek a mulligan is to file inflammatory accusations against employers, called an unfair labor practice charge (ULP).  Even if these ULPs are entirely frivolous, as they often are, it puts additional pressure on a company and keeps the dissension around a union vote percolating at the targeted facility.  And given the ideological bent of the current NLRB, such a frivolous charge might be upheld and used to overturn an election.  As one analyst put it in a massive understatement,  “Under the current administration, it’s [the NLRB] a little bit more pro-union than the previous administration.”

One unfortunate effect of the ULPs for workers at the Mercedes plant, even those who supported the UAW, is that the company may be unable to give raises or additional benefits while the charges are being litigated.  According to one UAW organizer:  “What do these objections mean for us going forward?  Well, we might get another election out of it…The company might not be able to change wages, benefits, and working conditions.” 

In other words, the UAW, which claims to want to secure better wages and benefits for Mercedes workers, may in fact block any such improvement in wages or benefits because they are mad they lost the election.  Not exactly a great case to bring to workers if any rerun takes place.

Hopefully the NLRB will dismiss the UAW’s charges, and workers can get back to building cars.  But the whole episode shows the UAW’s true colors.

About the authors

Glenn Spencer

Glenn Spencer

Spencer oversees the Chamber’s work on immigration, retirement security, traditional labor relations, human trafficking, wage hour and worker safety issues, EEOC matters, and state labor and employment law.

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