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North Alabama Area Labor Council condemns “anti-worker” legislation

The legislation could condition economic development incentives on employers not voluntary recognizing labor unions.

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On Tuesday, the North Alabama Area Labor Council released a statement condemning, “anti-worker” legislation recently filed in the Legislature that could dissuade business owners from recognizing unions at the workplace.

The bill, SB231, was introduced by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur. The legislation 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.

Under current law, an employer can recognize a union if a majority of employees signed up to join the union. However, Orr’s bill would 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.

According to the North Alabama Area Labor Council, 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 statement said. “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. Further, the implication of this bill is that workers are being coerced into unionization — this is obviously not the case, and there are mechanisms by which a worker can force an election where they feel the claim to majority support is illegitimate.”

Similar legislation has been introduced in Georgia already, which Orr has said his legislation is based on. Orr also said the impetus for the legislation was the unionization campaigns ongoing at Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai facilities as workers seek to join the United Auto Workers (UAW). Mercedes Benz workers announced earlier in March that a majority of workers signed union election authorization cards.

“It’s based on the recent Georgia legislation, and I saw that the UAW was making a push into Alabama to unionize here. It seems to me the importance of the secret ballot process to unionize or not unionize is very important. That’s something that companies ought to be encouraged to do is to have that secret ballot vote and not go through a card check process where it’s public and company employees know who is voting which way and then they’re browbeaten either way,” Orr told 1819 News.

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Correction: A previous version of the article quoted a misleading statement by NAACL. It also incorrectly stated that “Hyundai was found in violation of child labor laws in 2022 at its Montgomery facility” and that Hyundai has engaged in “lawless behavior” and “been found to be in violation of various federal laws.” APR regrets these errors.

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

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