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Virtual “Unions101” workshop to be held Tuesday

The virtual workshop will be held to offer basic information regarding unions for working class folks.

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On Tuesday, a virtual workshop will be held to offer basic information regarding unions for working class folks and others interested in learning about the topic especially in Alabama.

The workshop is sponsored by the North Alabama Labor Council and the presentation will be conducted by Jennifer Sherer of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Sherer is a senior state policy coordinator for EPI’s Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) Worker Power Project. 

The event will take place at 6-7:30 p.m. via Zoom and those interested in registering can sign up here. The topics discussed will include the impact of unions on the economy and workplaces, how state labor policies affect working people and why unionization is growing among new generations of workers.

APR spoke to North Alabama Labor Council Trustee Adam Keller about the workshop and why he thinks it is important to facilitate conversations about unions. Keller said that due to unions being a hot topic at the moment many people are interested in them yet may not be getting factual information regarding them. Keller also said the event was not just for pro-union individuals but those skeptical about unions.

“We want to be sure that we’re getting accurate information to people and telling the truth about our movement,” Keller said. Because there are folks on the other side who aren’t too happy with labor unions, and who spread a lot of information, misinformation, I would argue. And so it’s important that we reach people. And with this event, it’s tailored for a general audience, whether it’s folks at any union folks who are just curious. Curious workers who want to learn more or it could be business owners who were skeptical about unions.”

Since January unions have become a major topic in Alabama because auto workers at two manufacturers, the Mercedes Benz Plant in Vance and the Hyundai Plant in Montgomery, announced campaigns to join the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. While the campaigns have been led by workers citing unsafe work conditions and wanting better pay many pro-business entities in the state have forcefully begun counteracting the unionization attempts.

Gov. Kay Ivey has released several op-eds claiming the unionization campaigns would be bad for Alabama’s economy. The Business Council of Alabama has produced a website called AlabamaStrong.com solely to argue that workers joining the UAW would be detrimental and “advocate for the collective business interests of the whole Alabama business community.” 

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Just last week, Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, filed a bill that would, “condition an employer’s eligibility for economic development incentives upon the employer refraining from certain practices relating to employee representation by a labor organization.”

All of these factors and “misinformation” are why Keller is inviting everyone to join the workshop and learn about unions from a labor expert.

“There’s such an onslaught of anti-union propaganda from corporate forces and from their political allies,” Keller said. “And so I think that makes it all the more urgent that we get factual information out there to folks.”

Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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