One thing drawing German and Asian automakers to the state of Alabama over others like, say, Michigan, has been the state's lack of organized labor, and for good reason if the strife going on in Detroit these days is any indication. The workers at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa County, however, might find solidarity and become the first plant in the state to unionize. One unique point is that it's not the United Auto Workers behind the efforts this time (the UAW failed to unionize the plant in 1999 and 2000) -- the organizers belong to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). At up to $26.44 an hour, the workers are admittedly not seeking wage increases; rather, the recent cutbacks in health care for retirees, forced overtime, treatment of temporary workers and absence of seniority rights have them seeking representation.
Despite the idea that foreign companies pay well and offer good benefits to avoid a situation in which their workers unionize (or so says Bernard Swiecki of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor), Mercedes is publicly staying impartial throughout the process.[Source: The Washington Times via the World Peace Herald]