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Arthur Orr concerned Alabama auto manufacturing could ‘come to a screeching halt’ if UAW is successful

State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) is worried about the future of automobile manufacturing in Alabama because of the effort to unionize a Mercedes Benz factory.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that workers at the Mercedes Benz factory in Vance, Alabama will vote between May 13 and May 17 to unionize.

The concern comes after the United Auto Workers (UAW) was able to organize a successful unionization effort at Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Orr told WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show,” Friday that he’s heard discussion from other automakers about the issue that’s very “concerning” for the future of Alabama’s economy.

“I’ve heard that same topic and same discussion that yes, they are not happy, and that future growth in Alabama would come to a screeching halt as far as some of our other automakers because of this,” Orr said. “And that’s certainly concerning, because there are other states that would certainly love to have what we have in Alabama and what we’ve been working to have since Mercedes first came in the early 90s.”

The Legislature recently passed Orr’s bill that would withhold economic incentives to a company that voluntarily recognizes a union “solely and exclusively on the basis of signed labor organization authorization cards if the selection of a bargaining representative may be conducted through a secret ballot election.”

The senator admitted though that there’s only so much they can do at the state level to prevent unions from gaining more influence in Alabama.

“Well, you’ve got federal law out there and the National Labor Relations Act that controls all this and it’s pretty, pretty tight,” he explained. “And then you’ve got a board that governs that entity that under the Biden administration and Obama administration, crank out rules and [regulations] that tighten it even further. So it makes it very difficult for the state to do much of anything when it comes to organization efforts or post organization efforts with unions.”

RELATED: Alabama House passes bill protecting workers’ right to secret ballot in union elections

Orr said he’s not certain that the workers at the Mercedes plant in Vance will vote to join the union.

“I don’t know if I’d say it was a foregone conclusion just yet,” he said, “but certainly there’ll be a vote in it’ll be in the coming days, I think in the middle of next month, is something that they’ve scheduled and we’ll see how it rolls but based on the Volkswagen experience that the UAW had been working much longer. You know, it was our overwhelming vote to to unionize.”

He also warned the automakers that they better take good care of their employees if they want to prevent more unionization efforts in the future.

“These things take time, but the UAW doesn’t stop at the state lines,” he said. “And so they will follow wherever they think they can get sufficient votes to organize. And I would think they’ll find where there’s a disenchanted employee base to work with and that first domino starts tipping over as the organization efforts proceed and the promises are made by the UAW. And if an employer has not been mindful of their employees, they can be vulnerable certainly to an organizational effort.”

Governor Kay Ivey has continually spoken out against the UAW’s potential expansion in Alabama. She took her biggest swing yet at the union on Thursday in a social media post:

Yaffee is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts “The Yaffee Program” weekdays 9-11 a.m. on WVNN. You can follow him on Twitter @Yaffee

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