December 2, 2014 / 2:18 AM / 4 years ago

UAW presses Daimler at Alabama plant after NLRB victory

DETROIT (Reuters) - The United Auto Workers union said on Monday it will press managers of the Daimler AG’s (DAIGn.DE) Mercedes-Benz assembly plant in Alabama to respect the right of workers to discuss organizing a local union while on the factory floor.

An American flag flies in front of the United Auto Workers union logo on the front of the UAW Solidarity House in Detroit, Michigan, September 8, 2011. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Mercedes-Benz U.S. International must rescind a rule in its employee handbook prohibiting workers from talking about a union in work areas while not on work time.

“It’s unfortunate that Mercedes-Benz had to be ordered to simply allow workers to discuss their right to organize,” said Kirk Garner, a longtime Mercedes-Benz worker. He is also a member of UAW Local 112, established in October, and served as a witness in the NLRB case.

A Mercedes-Benz statement emailed on Monday evening said the company has been and remains neutral on the issue of unionization “with the decision left to our team members.”

It also said an older version of the employee handbook “regarding rules for solicitation and this has been addressed in the 2014 handbook recently distributed to team members.”

The UAW said it wants Mercedes Benz to follow the policy it has for plants outside the United States which “acknowledges the human right to form trade unions” and “respects the right of collective bargaining.”

The Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama is Daimler’s only plant worldwide that does not offer employee representation.

Last summer, an administrative law judge issued a ruling that was affirmed by the NLRB last Wednesday.

There are about 2,500 full-time and 1,000 “temporary” workers at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

The UAW has been trying to organize workers at several foreign-owned plants in the U.S. South, including Volkswagen AG’s (VOWG_p.DE) plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) plants in Canton, Mississippi, and in Smyrna, Tennessee.

Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Dan Grebler

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