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Alabama lawmakers OK bill barring state incentives to pro-union companies


Following on the heels of Governor Kay Ivey’s warning to Alabama autoworkers not to unionize, State lawmakers advanced legislation that would withhold economic incentive dollars from companies that voluntarily recognize a union without holding a secret ballot election.

The Alabama Senate voted 23-5 for the bill by Republican Senator Arthur Orr, of Decatur. It now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives. The measure says that companies would be ineligible for economic development incentives if they voluntarily recognize a union after a majority of employees return union-authorization cards — a process sometimes called "card check-off." Under the proposal, a secret ballot election would be required to determine if a union would be formed.

"It does not prevent an organization effort. Absolutely not. All it does is require a private vote," Orr said.

The measure comes as auto manufacturers located in the South face a unionization effort as states continue to offer large economic incentives to lure electric vehicle manufacturers and other companies to locate within their borders. Lawmakers in Georgia and Tennessee have approved similar bills.

The Alabama proposal does not affect companies that are already unionized. It also does not impact incentive package agreements executed before Jan. 1, 2025.

A telephone message Tuesday to the Alabama AFL-CIO was not immediately returned.

Governor Kay Ivey's warning Alabama auto workers not to unionize, is part of a statement signed by five Southern Governors. It comes on the eve of a vote to organize at Volkswagen's Tennessee factory. The governors all say that they have worked to bring good-paying jobs to their states. But they said a successful union drive will stop auto manufacturing growth and hurt workers. The UAW declined comment. The union does say workers at Alabama’s Mercedes Benz plant are moving toward a possible union vote.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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