Today marks the beginning of the UAW strike at a Mercedes Benz supplier in Foley, Alabama. This comes in the wake of the ongoing “big three” Detroit auto-maker strikes, which began on September 15th, and shows the strength and solidarity of thousands of union workers across the nation.
The strike at the Mercedes Benz supplier is specifically targeting a single employer, INTERSTATE AUTOMOTIVE, the company that supplies parts to Mercedes Benz. Workers there have been fighting for better wages, better benefits and the right to negotiate their contracts in good faith with their employer. According to workers there, their current wages – only $10 an hour – have not changed since 2012, and efforts to negotiate for better wages have been met with indifference or outright hostility by INTERSTATE Automotive.
The UAW’s strike at the Alabama supplier is also resonating with the Detroit auto strikes, which have gained added traction in recent weeks. UAW President Gary Jones has been on the front lines of those negotiations, and the UAW strike in Alabama is a reminder that he, and the union, are determined to fight for fairer wages for their members, regardless of industry.
What’s more, the Alabama strike is a stark reminder of the fragility of the U.S. labor movement. Here is a small supplier to a giant auto maker, with workers who are barely scraping by on low wages and facing an indifferent employer. The fact that they have taken their fight to the streets is a testament to their courage, and one that should not be overlooked by their fellow union workers in Detroit – or across the country.
Ultimately, it is up to the workers and the union in Foley, Alabama to help make a better lives for themselves, and to show others that there is still strength and power in collective action. In doing so, they are proclaiming that no worker should be forgotten or taken for granted, and that the labor movement still has life in it yet.