Following what could at least be considered a cordial reception at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant, the United Auto Workers has targeted Mercedes-Benz's Vance, Alabama, plant, outside Tuscaloosa, as its next major organizing effort in the South, according to Al.com, the digital news portal for several of Alabama's major daily newspapers. Like the organizing effort at VW's plant, the UAW is being supported by German labor union IG Metall. Representatives of the German union have reportedly moved into office space near the plant, to lend their support to the effort.
Although some have considered the foreign transplants to be unassailable fortresses of anti-union sentiment, the UAW has had some quiet victories in the Southeast, with successful organization of several supplier plants that provide components for assembly of the ML and GL-series SUVs built at Vance.
UAW president Bob King has repeatedly gone on record saying that successful organization of foreign transplant factories in the U.S. is imperative to the union's long-term survival and growth. The latest effort is not the UAW's first attempt to organize Mercedes' Vance plant, with campaigns in 1999-2000, shortly after the plant's opening in 1997, and again in 2007. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union attempted to organize the plant in 2006.