As the economic crisis due to the coronavirus has impacted our state, Alabama’s job creators and our state’s workers have been focused on reopening our state and getting back to work.
Before the coronavirus, Alabama’s economy was strong and one of the biggest challenges many Alabama businesses faced was filling vacant jobs with skilled workers. The gap in skills and lack of training prevented many in our state from connecting with Alabama’s job creators to receive a good-paying job.
That is why I was encouraged to see companies like New Flyer, North America’s largest bus manufacturer with a world-class manufacturing facility in Anniston, released a Community Benefits Framework (CBF). Among many principles of the CBF were increased opportunities for Alabamians with apprenticeship programs in addition to the execution of sustainable business practices and diversify hiring for management and manufacturing jobs.
But like many businesses in Alabama, this pandemic quickly shifted priorities for New Flyer. New Flyer focused on short-term survival to ensure their long-term viability in Anniston so that many Alabamians would have a job waiting for them.
Like many businesses across the country, New Flyer of America made the difficult choice to halt production and idle their facility in Anniston due to the speed and gravity of coronavirus. While there was short-term pain for many in our community, New Flyer’s decision to reopen earlier this month has put many in Anniston back to work.
Sadly, Jobs to Move America (JMA), a progressive Astroturf organization with a chapter here in Alabama, chose to amplify their self-righteous campaign against New Flyer. JMA since engaging in Alabama has worked alongside out-of-state labor unions to spread baseless mistruths and targeted Alabama’s job creators, including Mercedes-Benz that employs over 4,000 in our state.
While Alabamians were concerned where they would get their next paycheck, JMA accelerated the pace of their baseless and unfounded attacks. As Alabama business fought to stay open, JMA elevated the attacks that only proved their intense focus on pursuing anti-jobs and anti-Alabama policies far outweighed anything else.
Be sure, JMA’s self-serving game here in Alabama is not over. As New Flyer has judiciously moved to reopen the Anniston facility and put our neighbors back to work with good jobs that offer economic mobility with extensive on-the-job and classroom training, pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, JMA continues to employ its same tactics to endanger workforce morale when all people want is to work again and earn a living.
New Flyer has undertaken extensive measures to protect employees with stringent social and physical distancing guidelines, continuous cleaning and sanitization measures and additional Personal Protective Equipment requirements for employees, while JMA in return, continues to strike fear through false claims.
450,000 people in our state are out of work. Now is not the time to take advantage of a crisis but rather it is time to reopen and give employees their jobs again without outside groups like JMA setting up even more obstacles between Alabamians and their next paycheck.
If we want good-paying jobs in Anniston and across our state, especially as our country faces historic job loss, vilifying companies that provide those jobs and mentorship opportunities puts no one at an advantage. On the contrary, it damages our state’s reputation of being pro-business and pro-jobs that could stunt further job creation when so many in our state need a good-paying job.
Sen. Del Marsh is President Pro Tempore of the Alabama Senate. He represents District 12, including Calhoun and Talladega counties. Marsh was elected to the Senate in 1998 and was reelected for a fifth term in 2014. He was first elected President Pro Tempore in 2010.