$700 Needed to Cover UAW Election at Mercedes in Alabama NEXT WEEK

$525 / $700

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Next week, workers at Mercedes in Vance, Alabama will vote on unionizing. It’s a historic UAW election and a win there could open the door to more union organizing throughout the South. 

(Read our preview of the UAW election at Mercedes & Listen to Our Podcast with a Mercedes Union Leader in Alabama)

Our coverage in Chattanooga went viral with a video of a formerly anti-union worker who turned pro-union, gaining a combined 500,000 views on Twitter and YouTube. We nearly doubled our YouTube following with this video, which received more than 4,200 likes. 

We received wide praise for our Chattanooga coverage, which will really help us appeal for grants to foundations. We only could have gotten that interview if we were in the field.

Donate to help us cover this crucial UAW election.

However, we need to worry about money right now to cover the UAW election at Mercedes in Alabama next week because covering the Chattanooga union election was so expensive.

Initially, we thought that we would need $4,000 combined to cover both the Volkswagen and Mercedes UAW elections. We raised $4,235 from our readers. 

However, it cost us approximately $3,578 to cover Chattanooga and now we are debating traveling down to Vance, Alabama to cover the UAW election at Mercedes next week.

Let me give you a breakdown of our costs in Chattanooga: 

  • $840 for a week’s stay in a La Quinta hotel 
  • $1,500 to hire local videographers (a cost we’re eliminating by 75% as I am going to film myself and simply hire an editor)
  • $275 on text and audio editors
  • $383 on airfare
  • $70 on baggage fees 
  • $160 on taxis and Ubers (I didn’t rent a car, to save money)
  • $350 on eating out for a week while reporting

$3,578 was spent on covering the UAW victory in Chattanooga out of $4,235 raised for two union elections from our readers, leaving only $657 to cover Alabama.

The remaining money went to buy a $242 plane ticket to Alabama and to cover part of my $720 monthly healthcare costs. 

I paid myself no salary for my Chattanooga work. (Fortunately, our monthly recurring donors allowed me to still pay my $1,200-a-month rent in Pittsburgh.) Furthermore, none of this budget includes salary for months of tracking the latest updates on the UAW drive at Volkswagen.

How We Plan to Save Money in Alabama

Now, we are hoping to save money in Alabama. I am going to do all my filming myself to cut out paying videographers and have enough money to pay our editor.  

However, I’m very, very nervous about having enough money for hotel, gas, and travel costs in Alabama. I figure I will easily need another $600 for a three night’s stay, transportation, and food. 

Our coverage of Chattanooga was a huge success and was at the center of both national and international discourse about the historic UAW election. 

However, I am debating shortening the trip to Alabama because we will likely need another $600 easily to cover full costs. 

Please donate to help us cover this expected $600 that we will need to cover the historic UAW election in Alabama. 

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]