Alabama’s right-to-work status a significant contributor to recent manufacturing boom
The last several months and years have seen thousands of manufacturing and tech jobs move to Alabama from other states, and Business Council of Alabama President and CEO William J. Canary says he knows why: Alabama’s status as a right-to-work state.
The right to join or not join a union and be free of coercive attempts to force unionization is often cited as a hallmark of Alabama’s attraction to every segment of our economy especially manufacturers and suppliers.
“Over the last two decades, many businesses that were located in heavily unionized states have moved their operations to Alabama, choosing to locate their facilities in the right-to-work Alabama due to the ability to compete in the global marketplace,” Canary said.
Alabama’s right-to-work status played a major role in the decisions of such companies as Airbus and Austal USA to manufacture in the Yellowhammer State, and auto workers make more here than in any other state.
Canary underscored the fact that heavy unionization does not attract new manufacturers, expand existing business, or lead to prosperity. “The BCA strongly supports Alabama’s right-to-work status for its benefits to economic growth, industrial recruitment, and job creation,” he added.
Laws prohibiting forced unionization in order to get a job are on the books of 25 states. In Alabama, right-to-work has been the law since 1953. Seeing the dramatic shift, three northern states have enacted right-to-work statutes in the last three years alone.
Canary said the law, and now the secret ballot reaffirmation secured in the Alabama Constitution in 2013, inspires confidence that Alabama will remain a business-friendly state.
“A union presence in Alabama would only serve to stifle job creation and economic opportunity,” Canary said. “I continue to believe that free enterprise can best meet the needs of its employees by maintaining an open and direct relationship with them, without the interference of a third party.”
South Carolina, a state that has many manufacturing similarities to Alabama, is led by Governor Nikki Haley—a steadfast supporter of the right-to-work. The Palmetto State is home to many manufacturers which reportedly made decisions to locate there due to the low level of unionization and the state’s right-to-work laws.
In January, Haley said that South Carolina has an international reputation for not wanting heavy union involvement, “because we don’t need unions.” She said right-to-work strengthens the direct relationship that employers have with their employees without interference of an intermediate party.
Costs are also higher in union operations due to transactional costs having to do with collective bargaining and other union activities.
Canary said the BCA pledges in its annual State Legislative Agendas to protect Alabama’s right-to-work status in order to keep the state competitive, “ours is a committed campaign.”
“Existing industries looking to expand and companies looking to locate here must be confident that Alabama will remain a business-friendly state,” Canary said in a recent interview. “I continue to believe that free enterprise can best meet the needs of its employees by maintaining an open and direct relationship with them.”
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— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizEBeesh) January 21, 2015