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Workers for Opportunity applauds Alabama Legislature for passing secret ballot legislation

On Tuesday, the Alabama House of Representatives passed legislation that would prevent state tax incentives from flowing to companies that deny their employees access to private ballot votes over whether to unionize their workplace.

Senate Bill 231 (SB231) is sponsored by State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur). It was carried in the House of Representatives by House Majority Leader Brett Stadthagen (R-Hartselle).

The legislation is supported by the Speaker of the House.

Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Hartselle) said in a statement, "Where I come from, you never ask someone how they voted in an election. If a vote to unionize is going to happen, votes should be private, and employees shouldn't have to weigh potential repercussions when making their decisions. I'm proud that the House voted to protect Alabamians from pressure and intimidation tactics like card-check, and I look forward to Governor Ivey signing this legislation into law."

The House passed SB231 in a 70 to 30 vote largely along party lines. The legislation passed the Senate 23-5 last week. The Senate still has to consider House changes to the bill before it can got to Governor Kay Ivey's (R) desk.

SB231 protects workers' right to a private vote in union organizing campaigns at companies that receive taxpayer incentive dollars. If an employer agrees to a union without a secret ballot the state will be able to claw back any incentives that the state has paid to lure the company to Alabama. This would not affect companies that have not received any incentives.

"With the passage of this critical legislation, Alabama will become a friendlier state for employees and job creators to do business," said Sen. Orr. "I look forward to sending this bill to the Governor's desk and seeing these principled protections become law."

"Alabama is proud of our longstanding commitment to advancing policies that protect workers' rights to earn a living, free from coercion," said Leader Stadthagen. "Yesterday, we took an important step in ensuring that taxpayer dollars will not subsidize companies that deprive their employees of the right to a private vote over whether to unionize. This policy makes clear that Alabama is a friendly state for employees to work and business owners to open up shop, without fear of combative union politics threatening their livelihoods and bottom lines."

SB231 addresses the state's longstanding concerns about unionization efforts by "card-check" – a process of collecting support cards from employees and recognized in lieu of private ballot elections by some employers. This approach to organizing is legal under federal regulations, but state officials are concerned that it can expose employees to intense pressure and intimidation by union organizers at their workplaces and in full view of their peers.

By passing this legislation, Alabama will join Georgia and Tennessee in asserting that workers deserve to make decisions about who represents them in private and state taxpayers should not be subsidizing coercive unionization efforts.

Tony Daunt is the Senior Director of Workers for Opportunity.

"The Mackinac Center for Public Policy's national Workers for Opportunity initiative applauds the passage of this bill and looks forward to celebrating Gov. Kay Ivey's timely signature of this landmark legislation," said Director Daunt. "Thanks to the leadership of bill sponsor Senator Arthur Orr and House Majority Leader Scott Stadthagen, Alabama will join Tennessee and Georgia as the third state in the nation to enact such protections for taxpayers and workers."

The United Auto Workers union (UAW) is attempting to organize at car factories across the state of Alabama. State leaders are concerned that if UAW becomes entrenched in the state it will become extremely difficult for the state to recruit or retain employers in the future.

Gov. Ivey has been outspoken in her concerns about the UAW effort and is expected to sign SB231 when it reaches her desk.

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