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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

UAW challenges election loss at Alabama Mercedes-Benz factories

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Wednesday, May 29, 2024   

The United Auto Workers union continues the fight to add workers at two Alabama Mercedes-Benz plants in Vance and Woodstock to its union rolls.

Despite losing the union election by a narrow margin this month, the UAW has accused the automaker of misconduct and is seeking a new election. The union has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging the company illegally intimidated workers into voting against the union.

Shawn Fain, president of the UAW, alleged the company interfered in the organizing process.

"This company engaged in egregious, illegal behavior," Fain said. "The federal government and the German government are currently investigating Mercedes for the intimidation and harassment that they inflicted on their own workers."

The objections are being reviewed by the regional director of the labor relations board, who has the authority to order a hearing. If it is determined the employer's actions influenced the election, a new vote may be ordered.

Gov. Kay Ivey has said the plant workers have made their voices heard and the UAW should respect the outcome. Ivey and other southern governors have opposed efforts to unionize, saying direct relationships between workers and employers foster better work environments.

In the recent publication "Labor Notes," Mercedes worker Jeremy Kimbrell outlined allegations of union-busting activities, including sending anti-union messages, holding so-called "captive audience" meetings and playing anti-union videos.

Despite the loss, Fain acknowledged some victories achieved through the union's campaign. He highlights pay increases secured through the UAW's efforts, the elimination of wage tiers and the appointment of a new CEO. However, Fain thinks more could be done to improve working conditions at the plants.

"It's about getting our lives back, getting our times back, and having dignity on the job," Fain outlined. "The only path to do that, the only vehicle for that, is with a union contract."

Following last year's victories at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, the UAW has pledged $40 million to focus on organizing efforts in the South.

In the meantime, Gov. Ivey signed Senate Bill 231 into law, which mandates unions can only be formed through secret ballots. Companies voluntarily recognizing unions without the secret ballot risk losing state incentives.


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