| DETROIT, June 5
DETROIT, June 5 The United Auto Workers union
said on Thursday it will announce as soon as next week a plan to
organize workers at the Daimler AG Mercedes-Benz
plant in Alabama.
Gary Casteel, the union's newly elected secretary-treasurer,
said the UAW will reveal its plan for workers at the Daimler
plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama "probably in the coming week."
New UAW President Dennis Williams said Casteel, 56, will
lead the union's efforts to gain membership by organizing
foreign automakers, which are primarily located in the South.
Casteel did not offer details of the UAW's plan in Alabama.
Sonny Hawthorne, a leading anti-UAW worker at the
Mercedes-Benz plant, told Reuters the union would have the
support "of 25 to 30 percent (of plant workers), at the most" if
a vote were held today.
Hawthorne said he was confident the union's efforts to
organize the factory will fail.
Earlier this week, the UAW reacted to reports that pro-union
workers in Alabama want the UAW to stop organizing efforts
because they have gone on too long without success.
"They want to have an election right away," Williams told
reporters on Monday. "We perceive it that we have more building
to do there."
STRATEGY SHIFT AT VW, NISSAN, DAIMLER
Casteel said the union is changing its strategy on how to
organize workers in Alabama, as well as at the Volkswagen AG
factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the Nissan
Motor Co plant in Canton, Mississippi.
He said the union will continue to have active organizing
efforts at all three Southern plants.
At the UAW convention this week, Frank Patta, general
secretary of the Volkswagen AG global works council, vowed that
the effort to organize Chattanooga workers would continue.
The UAW has worked closely with German union IG Metall to
organize the Mercedes-Benz and VW plants. In Mississippi, where
most of the plant's workers are black, it has linked workers'
rights to civil rights.
"We have a bit of a different approach between the Nissan
and the Volkswagen and Daimler cases," Casteel said, adding that
the new approach would perhaps not have "as much confrontation
as we've had in the past."
He also said the union might spend less money on the
Casteel said the strategy shift is a reaction to anti-union
groups and Republican politicians, who were successful in
thwarting the UAW's efforts to win a vote among VW's
Chattannooga workers in February.
"The things that we were doing last year don't work because
of this dynamic that you didn't have to deal with" in the past,
Casteel said. "So, we're re-evaluating where we're at with all
The UAW wants to organize the foreign plants to increase its
membership, which has fallen about 40 percent in the past decade
to about 390,000.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall. Editing by Andre Grenon)