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Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su visits New Flyer plant in Anniston

The acting secretary of labor visited the Anniston New Flyer plant, where workers unionized and won significant raises this year.

Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su tours New Flyer Anniston clean energy bus factory and meets with production assembly workers. Department of Labor
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On Tuesday, the acting Secretary of Labor, Julie Su, visited the New Flyer plant in Anniston as part of her “Good Jobs Summer Tour.”

New Flyer is a national bus company and its Anniston facility helps manufacture electric buses.

New Flyer workers in Anniston unionized in January. The successful union card check followed a community benefits agreement brokered by Jobs to Move America which required New Flyer to be neutral and voluntarily recognize unions with majority support.

The workers organized under the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine, and Furniture Workers, an industrial division of the Communications Workers of America also known as the IUE-CWA.

One New Flyer employee, Marcus King, said that Su’s trip to the facility “was a wonderful experience, and it was great to meet the acting Secretary of Labor.”

“I never would have imagined that our union would attract someone from the federal level,” said Ryan Masters, another New Flyer employee. “It goes to show that our contract is changing lives, one page at a time!”

In May, the New Flyer workers’ union overwhelmingly ratified a new contract which included double-digit raises, increased vacation time, and cost-of-living adjustments.

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Many have pointed to New Flyer workers’ successful unionization and the resulting contract as a positive sign for the future of organized labor in the South.

Su has said that her Good Jobs Summer Tour is meant to “[highlight] the work that the Department of Labor has done with community partners on the ground to help ensure that every job is a good one, and that every worker feels the commitment that this Administration has made to fight for them.”

One of the pillars of the Department of Labor’s Good Jobs Initiative, which the Good Jobs Summer Tour is meant to promote, is community benefits agreements like the one that helped New Flyer workers unionize. In fact, New Flyer is specifically used as an example of a successful community benefits agreement on the Department of Labor’s website.

While New Flyer workers were reportedly fans of Su’s visit to the Anniston factory, Su remains a controversial political figure nationally.

Under Su’s leadership, the Department of Labor has been more ambitious when fulfilling its Congressional mandates. Within the last month, it filed two novel child labor cases against Alabama employers.

One was filed against Mar-Jac Poultry of Alabama and the other was filed against Hyundai and associated companies. Both cases accused the employers of utilizing oppressive child labor and violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

President Biden has now nominated Su to be Secretary of Labor twice but she has yet to be confirmed to her post. Both of Alabama’s senators, Katie Britt and Tommy Tuberville, have vocally and repeatedly opposed her potential confirmation. Tuberville specifically called Su “too radical for America.”

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However, following the normalization of retaining acting cabinet members during the Trump administration, Su is unlikely to be replaced anytime soon.

In March, Su said she is “going to do this job for as long as the president wants me to do it and as long as the American people need somebody who’s going to fight for working people.”

Carl Kennebrew, president of the IUE-CWA, stated that the union “is grateful for the continued support of acting Labor Secretary Su and the Biden Administration when it comes to creating good, union manufacturing jobs.”

Chance Phillips is a reporting intern at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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