Nearly 200 workers go on strike at Tuscaloosa Mercedes supplier

By: - September 21, 2023 10:43 am

The UAW strike begins and hundreds come to picket at Ford-owned Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan the night of September 14, 2023. (photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

The United Auto Workers said Wednesday that 190 workers had gone on strike at ZF Custom Chassis, a Tuscaloosa Mercedes parts supplier.

UAW, which is engaged in a larger strike against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, said in an article published on their website on Tuesday that UAW members had rejected a contract offer from ZF.

“These members of UAW Local 2083 supply front axels to Mercedes and have been fighting for a fair contract that ends tiers, raises wages and provides decent health care,” UAW wrote on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesday morning.

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UAW Region 8, of which the Tuscaloosa local is a member, referred questions to UAW headquarters in Detroit. Emails seeking comment were sent to the Detroit UAW and to Mercedes-Benz on Wednesday morning.

Tony Sapienza, a spokesman for ZF, wrote in an email Wednesday that the strike was not connected to the larger action by UAW.

“We remain committed to continuing negotiations in good faith and are hopeful that we can come to a resolution soon,” Sapienza wrote. “The plant continues to run during these discussions.”

Alabama is a right-to-work state, which means unions cannot require members to pay dues. The measure is credited with weakening unions in the state and throughout the South.

The state has below-average union membership for the nation, though its overall unionization rates are the highest in the Deep South. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 149,000 Alabamians, about 7.2% of the state workforce, belonged to a union in 2022. A total of 173,000 workers (8.4% of the workforce) were represented by unions.

The total number of union members in Alabama grew by 34,000 between 2021 and 2022, according to BLS.

UAW struck the Big Three automakers last week, seeking increased pay, better benefits and shorter hours.

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Brian Lyman
Brian Lyman

Brian Lyman is the editor of Alabama Reflector. He has covered Alabama politics since 2006, and worked at the Montgomery Advertiser, the Press-Register and The Anniston Star. His work has won awards from the Associated Press Managing Editors, the Alabama Press Association and Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights. He lives in Auburn with his wife, Julie, and their three children.