Six Southern governors push back against UAW unionization efforts at auto plant


Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee joined five other governors in opposing the United Auto Workers’ unionization campaign with a vote this week of Chattanooga Volkswagen autoworkers on whether to unionize.

Lee is joined by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott against what they call misinformation from the UAW.

“The reality is companies have choices when it comes to where to invest and bring jobs and opportunity,” Lee and the governors wrote. “We have worked tirelessly on behalf of our constituents to bring good-paying jobs to our states. These jobs have become part of the fabric of the automotive manufacturing industry. Unionization would certainly put our states’ jobs in jeopardy – in fact, in this year already, all of the UAW automakers have announced layoffs.”

Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus Chairwoman London Lamar, on the other hand, offered her support of the Chattanooga workers and UAW, saying that Lee has a history of “anti-worker” legislation such as a removal of automatic Tennessee Education Association deduction options from Tennessee teacher paychecks and an incentive restriction for businesses that allow card check union elections.

“Unlike Tennessee’s governor, we applaud Volkswagen workers for engaging in the democratic process and we would welcome the UAW’s expansion in Chattanooga,” Lamar said in a statement. “We aren’t surprised to see Gov. Bill Lee join with other anti-union states trying to tip the scales against workers. Lee, who inherited a company that made him a millionaire, has signed more anti-worker laws than any governor in Tennessee history.”

Lee and the governors, however, believe a vote to unionize would jeopardize those auto manufacturing plants’ future.

“In America, we respect our workforce and we do not need to pay a third party to tell us who can pick up a box or flip a switch,” the governors said. “No one wants to hear this, but it’s the ugly reality. We’ve seen it play out this way every single time a foreign automaker plant has been unionized; not one of those plants remains in operation. And we are seeing it in the fallout of the Detroit Three strike with those automakers rethinking investments and cutting jobs. Putting businesses in our states in that position is the last thing we want to do.”