On the Picket Line

Mercedes parts workers win end to wage tiers

By Janice Lynn
November 6, 2023

ATLANTA — After 29 days on strike, workers in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, members of United Auto Workers Local 2083, ratified a four-year agreement Oct. 19 that will eliminate the hated tier system at the auto parts plant where they work.

“At the end of four years we’ll be at an equal pay for the job because we’re all essentially doing the same job,” shop steward Kenneth McKay told WBRC Fox 6 News.

Every two hours the roughly 190 union workers rotate to a different production station, McKay told Militant worker-correspondents who brought solidarity Sept. 29.

The workers, employed by ZF Chassis Systems, make axles for German automaker Mercedes-Benz’s nearby assembly plant.

Depending on their previously assigned tier, the workers will receive a pay raise of either 22% or 13% over the course of four years, bringing rates up to $23 an hour. This is an increase from today’s $20.30-an-hour top wage.

Workers also won access to preferred-provider health plans and a paid holiday for Juneteenth.

“We didn’t get everything we wanted, but then the company didn’t get everything they wanted,” McKay said. The four-year contract was approved by 98%.

McKay said he has been following what is going on with the United Auto Workers and other unions on strike across the country “that have been doing their walkouts and they’re starting to get their voices heard.”