The anti-union fight in "right-to-work" Alabama is getting Republican backing in the Alabama Legislature. With the United Auto Workers' (UAW) aggressively attempting to unionize non-union car producers in the state, like Mercedes Benz in Vance, another front has been opened in the anti-union battle.
As some 70% of the non-union auto workers in Alabama have signed cards in an attempt to set a union vote, a new bill introduced in Montgomery would prohibit companies receiving state economic assistance from voluntarily recognizing a union.
That legislation filed by Decatur Republican State Senator Arthur Orr is modeled after a similar bill in Georgia. That bill pushed by GOP legislators in both chambers of the Peach State's legislature now awaits Republican Gov. Brian Kemp's signature to become law.
Sen. Orr says his bill was inspired by the ongoing unionization efforts at Mercedes. “We saw the situation in Tuscaloosa, and I think it’s good policy to have the private vote matter to make sure that the employees, whether they’re for or against a union, that their ballot is cast in a private manner,” he said. “They can keep their votes to themselves and not be coerced or bullied one way or the other, for pro or con.”
Orr's Senate Bill 231 states that it will “condition an employer’s eligibility for economic development incentives upon the employer refraining from certain practices relating to employee representation by a labor organization.” The incentives include grants, loans or tax credits that the state or local government could provide to an employer.
Currently an employer can recognize a union if a majority of employees sign up to join that union. That is the case with the employees at Alabama's non-union auto plants and similar plants across the south.
Economic incentives and "right-to-work" law have been crucial to Alabama drawing new non-union business and industry to the state. However, Orr’s bill will make employers ineligible for economic incentives if they recognize a union based solely on signed authorization cards if that bargaining representative could be selected through a secret ballot process.
Critics call Orr's bill an unfair labor practice. The Alabama Labor Council issued a statement claiming the bill would harm workers and businesses alike and is an attempt to fix a largely non-existent problem like workers being coerced by labor organizations.
“Recognition by employers is the fastest avenue for employees to legally organize a union in their workplace,” the labor council's statement reads “By removing this avenue, this bill is a direct attack on Alabama’s labor movement and will force costly, unnecessary elections on business owners who want to do right by their employees."
Gov. Ivey has vowed to aggressively fight the UAW's $46 million dollar campaign to unionize the south's non-union car makers. "Alabama has become a national leader in automotive manufacturing, and all this was achieved without a unionized workforce. In other words, our success has been home grown — done the Alabama way, " she wrote on the Made in Alabama website in January.
The battle lines have been drawn.
See Also: