Alabama Governor Ivey Says “Alabama Isn’t Michigan” In Attack On Unions

An organizing drive at the Mercedes location in Vance, Alabama last week failed to pass in a close vote. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey attacked organizing efforts stating, “Alabama is not Michigan.” Well, Governor Ivey for once you are correct. Problem is, your statement does not reflect well on the state you represent when you compare the quality of life for workers in the two states.

In every metric in terms of working-class quality of life, Michigan ranks better than Alabama. And Michiganders have the UAW to thank. Granted, when you compare the two states, both have areas they need lots of improvement in. But in every metric, Michigan ranks better than Alabama.

Median income in Alabama ranks lower. Education, Alabama ranks lower. Economy, Alabama ranks lower. Employment stats, Alabama ranks lower. Access to health care, Alabama ranks much lower. When you compare states that are most dependent on federal tax dollars, Alabama ranks 5th. As a matter of fact, for every dollar the state of Alabama sends to the federal government, they get back $2.71. Governor Ivey presides over a state that needs more help from the federal government than the majority of other states.

So why does Michigan have a higher per capita income, higher level of access to health care, better income security, higher level of home ownership, higher levels of education and an overall better quality of life? In terms of union density, Michigan rates 12th in the United States. Alabama ranks 29th.

Latest numbers that compare union to nonunion households, show union households hold 1.7 times the wealth of comparable nonunion households. That means that union households are making more money, have more access to health care, have more educational opportunities and are more likely to own their own home. All metrics the average Alabama citizen trails the average Michigan citizen in.

So why would Governor Ivey fight so hard against unions in her state? To protect her rich buddies of course. If workers at Mercedes vote to form a union, then they can bargain for higher wages and benefits. When that happens, workers at non union industries in the area will apply for jobs at Mercedes leaving the nonunion workplaces they are currently employed at. All those nonunion employers will be forced to give higher wages to keep their employees. So why would the Governor of a state want people making less? For control is why. The poorer the rich can keep workers, the more control they exercise over them.

Alabama just this week passed a law that prevents state incentives for any company that recognizes a “union card check” as a manner of organizing. Essentially, Alabama is saying we will only provide incentives to nonunion workplaces.

Our home local, UAW Local 2195 was organized by a card check after the Department of Labor deemed our previous elections had been interfered with. What if my workplace had received no state incentives? There would have been far less jobs and the plants would have closed much faster. I can’t imagine where I would be right now if we did not have the UAW bargained pensions and health care. I can tell you, myself and my fellow Local 2195 members would not be enjoying our retirement, but rather seeking a low wage job at an advanced age.

Remember, Governor Ivey is the same person who recently refused federal money for summer meal programs for underprivileged children.

Elections matter- they matter a lot. Always look at where candidates stand on issues regarding working class people. It is a safe bet that when a politician attacks unions- they are not on the side of workers. The UAW is not abandoning the workers at Mercedes and will continue to work with them despite outside interference by anti-worker groups. Those of us in labor want Alabama citizens to have better wages, access to health care, be able to afford a home and quality education for their children. Unlike some of the state officials, we will continue to represent the working people of Alabama.

Alabama workers share the same goals as Michigan workers. They demand fair wages, access to health care, retirement security, protection for their communities and educational opportunities for their children. This very close vote on representation at Vance proves this. We will continue to work with Alabama workers until they win a voice in their workplace.