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Scared Southern Elites

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The UAW organizing campaign and other union campaigns is freaking out the far-right elites in southern states, who have built their message on exploiting the workers of their states for peanuts. That’s been the southern playbook since the 1890s basically. It’s long been the goal of unions to stop it by organizing, but they haven’t been too successful over now more than a century. But the UAW campaign, thanks in part to a changing South with a different demographic makeup, might change that trajectory. So the governors of southern states have decided to stand together to oppress the working class.

In a high-profile attempt to head off unionization of their states’ auto factories, the governors of six Southern states warned their residents that joining the United Auto Workers would threaten jobs and “the values we live by.”

The values we live by–low wages and benefits for you!

The joint statement from the Republican governors comes just a day before a Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., is set to vote on joining the UAW — the first of more than a dozen factories the union is targeting in the South as it attempts to break out of its Midwestern stronghold.

“The reality is companies have choices when it comes to where to invest and bring jobs and opportunity,” the governors of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas wrote. “Unionization would certainly put our states’ jobs in jeopardy.”

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

“They’re so scared,” UAW strategist Chris Brooks wrote on social media as he reposted Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s comment about the statement. The union didn’t otherwise provide a comment.

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

“It implies that the governors fear that the UAW will prevail in the upcoming union recognition election and that UAW success could upend their economic models built on relatively low pay and minimal worker voice,” Stephen Silvia, a professor at American University, said by email.

Tennessee Republicans have helped thwart two UAW attempts to unionize the VW factory, in 2014 and 2019, and have ramped up 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.”

They really are so scared. They don’t know how to handle working people uniting for their collective interest. Uniting for collective interest sounds like other things southern Republicans hate, like Black people voting.

Like in so many bad things, Alabama is leading the charge:

Alabama lawmakers on Tuesday advanced legislation that would withhold economic incentive dollars from companies that voluntarily recognize a union without holding a secret ballot election.

The Alabama Senate voted 23-5 for the bill by Republican Sen. Arthur Orr, of Decatur. It now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives.

The measure says that companies would be ineligible for economic development incentives if they voluntarily recognize a union after a majority of employees return union-authorization cards — a process sometimes called “card check-off.” Under the proposal, a secret ballot election would be required to determine if a union would be formed.

Intimidating the companies on the own labor relations is a new frontier in unionbusting, as far as I can tell. Woke capital!

The way to defeat this is to win the union elections. We should know something about the Chattanooga VP plant by this evening.

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