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This week, a delegation representing civil rights and labor leaders — which includes our very own Patty Kupfer — attended the Mercedes-Benz annual shareholders’ meeting in Berlin, Germany, to protest Daimler AG’s silence on HB 56, Alabama’s worst-in-the-nation anti-immigrant law. Mercedes-Benz is one of the largest employers in Alabama and has the economic influence to do something about HB 56. They just need to take a stand.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of representing America’s Voice Education Fund, alongside Renata Soto of National Council of La Raza and Fred Redmond of the United Steel Workers and the AFL-CIO, at the Daimler AG shareholder meeting with more than 6,000 attendees in Berlin, Germany. Renata spoke on behalf of our delegation, taking our message powerfully to the shareholders and the Daimler managing board. She got louder applause from the shareholders than just about any other speaker at the meeting as she asked Daimler if they would abide by the corporate principles they’d laid out and call for the repeal of HB 56!
Having lived in Alabama’s neighboring state of Tennessee for almost twenty years, the threat of this bill hits close to home. Last year, the Tennessee legislature considered similar anti-immigrant legislation, but after Nissan, Bridgestone and Volkswagon all came out against the law, the bill died.
Let me be clear: What we are asking is for Daimler to make a statement very much in keeping with what they proclaimed: that laws which trample on people’s rights are inconsistent with their corporate values and that places where symbols of intolerance are not only tolerated, but encouraged, are not the type of places in which these companies want to do business. Will you join us in calling for the repeal of HB 56?
Daimler’s answer was less inspiring. They did not call for repeal, but there were also reasons to be encouraged by their statement — Daimler spoke for the first time publicly about the Alabama law, and they stated clearly that they’re in conversations with the Alabama Business Council and with reps from the US Congress about the law. They also stated they were waiting for “further progress on these discussions.”
They didn’t say what we were hoping for, but they did leave the door open for further negotiation. And, that’s an opening we intend to take advantage of to continue to raise the pressure on Daimler to act, both behind the scenes and publicly on the Alabama law.
I’m sharing media coverage of the event below:
New American Media, “From Alabama to Berlin: Civil Rights Leaders Ask Mercedes to Oppose HB 56”
Huffington Post, “Alabama Immigration Law Opponents Won’t Be Joined by Top Auto Manufacturer”
Taz, “Rassismus in Alabama”