Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey made it clear that she does not want the United Auto Workers (UAW) to expand its reach into her home state.
As the UAW makes a strong play to unionize workers at a Nissan plant in Mississippi, Ivey, along with Alabama’s business community, are concerned that their state is next.
“As a right-to-work state, we are putting all workers on an even playing field,” Ivey told local paper Yellow Hammer News Wednesday. “This gives companies confidence they can hire the best available workers regardless of affiliation.”
The UAW won a deal with Japanese-based Nissan Motor Co. that will allow close to 4,000 full-time employees at its Canton, Miss., plant to vote on whether or not to organize as a labor union. The vote, which takes place the first week of August, marks the largest public effort by organized labor to gain ground in the deep south ever since President Donald Trump’s election.
“There’s no question UAW organizers have their sights set on auto manufacturing in Southern Right to Work states as a way of replenishing their dues coffers,” Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “While they’ve lost membership and jobs with the traditional Big Three, other car companies that are better known for making cars in Europe or Japan have been expanding and creating thousands of good jobs in Right to Work states.”
Union leaders have targeted plants in the South before. The UAW attempted to organize Nissan’s Tennessee facility in the past, to no avail. Nissan has long argued to its Mississippi-based employees that union representation isn’t a good idea and that they already have some of the best salaries and benefits in all of Mississippi.
The Canton plant has been criticized by the UAW for failing to protect workers safety. The UAW also has accused Nissan of preventing workers from unionizing. The Canton facility produces eight models with the capacity of churning out 450,000 vehicles per year.
Alabama business groups have a clear message to the UAW; stay out.
“We don’t need unions in Alabama, and they are not welcome,” William Canary, president & CEO of the Business Council of Alabama said Wednesday. “Alabama is among the least unionized states in the country, and that is a powerful economic development tool. Being a right to work state is a badge of honor. Alabama workers and employers value loyalty, and they take tremendous pride in the quality of their work and have a strong work ethic.”
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