canada africa partner reservation The union vote is expected to end Friday at the Mercedes plant in Tuscaloosa

The union vote is expected to end Friday at the Mercedes plant in Tuscaloosa

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Workers at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance began voting Monday on whether to form a union under the United Auto Workers (UAW).

Voting can be done until Friday. The National Labor Relations Board has announced that it plans to count the votes and release the totals on May 17.

More: Nick Saban says he has not taken a position on the Mercedes union’s vote despite advertising

The vote comes after months of organizing at the plant by workers who have criticized stagnant wages, benefits and irregular scheduling, as well as a major pushback led by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and the Business Council of Alabama.

Mercedes and UAW both declined to comment Monday.

Brett Garrard, a team leader and supply chain operator at the Mercedes battery plant involved in union organizing, said in a phone call on Monday that the observers had been dismissed from their jobs and went for a briefing with the Mercedes Legal Group, the legal team of UAW and the Labor Council.

“So we’re just now kind of getting boots on the ground and starting to move around,” he said.

The German automaker, lured by a large financial incentive package and low labor costs, announced in 1993 it would build a factory in Alabama and opened four years later. Mercedes-Benz is widely credited with creating the automotive industry in Alabama. In the years following its arrival, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota arrived in the state.

The UAW has tried to organize the plant in the past, including in 2014, but never got as far as this year. In addition to compensation and scheduling issues, union supporters at the plant said they were encouraged by the UAW’s recent victory in a strike against the Big Three automakers in Detroit and the vote by Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last month to join the UAW Close.

In February, the union said a majority of Mercedes workers had signed union cards. In April, the NLRB confirmed elections in May. The UAW previously said they would call for an election if 70% of workers expressed their support.

Ivey and the Business Council of Alabama have cracked down on the union, with Ivey suggesting a victory would upend Alabama’s economic model.

“Let me be crystal clear that Joe Biden’s UAW has no interest in Alabamians succeeding,” Ivey wrote in an earlier statement to the Reflector. “Instead, their interest here is to ensure that money from hardworking Alabama families ends up in the UAW’s bank account. That’s why they’re willing to spend $40 million to gain a foothold in the southeastern auto powerhouse.”

The Business Council of Alabama also released anti-union materials, including a website.

“A secret ballot will take place this week in Tuscaloosa at the Mercedes factory. I hope every employee there votes – it is critical that every voice is heard,” Ivey said Monday at an event in Huntsville, according to a spokesperson. “We want to ensure that Alabama values, not Detroit values, continue to determine the future of this great state.”

Ivey also announced at the Huntsville event that she had signed SB 231, sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, which would deny economic incentives to any employer who voluntarily recognizes a union.

A message seeking comment was left with BCA on Monday.

Garrard said everything was set up for a secret ballot with darkened tents, and at that point they were heading to the rest of the training.

“I think it’s going really well,” he said. “At this point I still think the general public and especially our local government and the BCA will be shocked. I truly believe that the voices of the team members will be heard.”