Nick Saban Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Rarely does former Alabama head coach Nick Saban speak out about politics.

In fact, during his time in Tuscaloosa, Saban managed to stay out of Alabama politics, though he did support his friend Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Recently, Saban has been caught up in some political controversy in Alabama. Workers at a Mercedes plant have a vote coming up to decide if they will unionize and the UAW has been using Saban’s name and likeness in their ads.

The UAW has been using ads with Saban talking about college football players unionizing.

“It never scares me that people are organized. General Motors and the automotive industry has had unions for a long time, and they’ve survived, fairly well I think. There’s been a lot of businesses that have been successful and worked with unions for many, many years. So I’m not anti-union. Unionize it, make it like the NFL,” Saban says in the UAW ad, which ends with an announcer saying “Alabama workers win with the union.”

Saban says his words are being used out of context and he does not support unionizing.

“I recently learned the United Autoworkers (UAW) union has taken the liberty of featuring my comments in advertisements released as part of its campaign to organize workers at Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. (MBUSI),” he said in a statement.  “Not only were these comments taken entirely out of context, they were also being used without my knowledge or permission.

“I do not personally endorse the UAW or its campaign and have asked the UAW to remove any advertisements featuring me from circulation. I encourage all Team Members to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming election.”

One reason Saban may be against the union is because he owns a Mercedes dealership in Birmingham, and a unionized workforce might cause his costs to rise.

Saban has been accused of not supporting NIL (name, image, and likeness) and even went to Capital Hill to inform lawmakers that it needs to be regulated.

Saban has said in the past that he supports NIL but feels that players should earn their deals and not just be given a check because they walked on campus. It has also been reported that Saban retired mainly because he got tired of the way college football is now, although the NIL didn’t hurt Alabama football until after he left.

Saban pushing back on union workers might not be a good look for his standing in the eyes of some in Alabama. In fact, it may paint him as just another rich guy who cares more about himself (and his wealth) than someone who wants to help others.

Although Saban is encouraging workers to vote, his lasting message may not matter.

As for the UAW, it doesn’t seem like they plan on taking the ad down yet.

“When a lot of college coaches weren’t willing to talk up the value of organizing college athletes, Coach Saban did,” Faiz Shakir, president of More Perfect Union Solidarity, said. “I understand that, in the closing moments of a union drive at the Vance plant, he’s probably getting pressure from the Mercedes leadership to speak out, so he felt he needed to say something. We didn’t take anything Coach said out of context; we presented his public statements exactly as he made them; and we’d ask people to watch the ad and judge for themselves. When the Mercedes workers win the union election, I’m confident Coach Saban will respect and appreciate their decision to do so.”


About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.