May 30, 2024

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Governors of six Southern states warn workers against joining the UAW

In a high-profile attempt to avoid unionizing auto plants in their states, the governors of six Southern states warned their residents that joining the UAW would threaten jobs and “the values ​​we live by.”

The joint statement from the Republican governors comes just one day before a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, votes to unionize — the first of more than a dozen plants the union is targeting in the South in its attempt to break the siege. From its stronghold in the Midwest.

“The reality is that companies have choices when it comes to where to invest and create jobs and opportunity,” the governors of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas said. books. “Unions would certainly put our states' jobs at risk.”

This notable intervention follows signs of optimism among pro-union workers at the Volkswagen plant, who in recent days have expressed hope that the vote will pass. It begins on Wednesday and lasts three days, and results are expected late Friday.

“They're very afraid,” said Chris Brooks, a UAW strategist books on social media where he reposted Alabama Governor Kay Ivey's comment about the statement. The Federation did not provide any comment other than that.

An economist who has closely studied unions in the South described the statement as “unprecedented and shocking,” and said it discouraged workers from exercising their legal right to organize.

“It implies that conservatives fear that the UAW will prevail in the upcoming union recognition elections and that the success of the UAW could upend their economic models built on relatively low wages and minimal worker voice,” Stephen Sylvia, a professor at American University, said via email. .

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Tennessee Republicans helped thwart two UAW attempts to consolidate a Volkswagen plant, in 2014 and 2019, and have intensified their opposition in recent weeks with news conferences and public statements. During a visit to Chattanooga this month, Gov. Bill Lee said joining the union would be a “big mistake.”

Some messages emphasized that the UAW has endorsed President Biden and has long ties to the Democratic Party.

“We have serious reservations that the UAW leadership could represent our values. They proudly call themselves Democratic Socialists and appear more focused on helping President Biden get re-elected than on cutting autoworker jobs at the plants they actually represent,” the conservatives wrote. .

Some Volkswagen workers told the Washington Post this month that they wish politicians would stay out of the matter and leave it to employees.

Democratic politicians have expressed support for the UAW. Tennessee Democratic senators on Tuesday criticized Republican governors on social media. “Auto workers in the South are ready to make history this week. #Stop, Chattanooga!” Senator London Lamar posted.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, whose state is facing a UAW organizing effort at a Toyota plant in Georgetown, said. Social media last week that the union had raised workers' standards of living and that he was “proud to stand shoulder to shoulder” with the UAW.