Republican Governors ‘Highly Concerned’ Workers Are About To Form Unions

The day before auto workers in Tennessee are set to cast ballots in a potentially historic union election, six Republican governors from the South came together in their own show of solidarity: a joint statement revealing how worried they are.

The governors of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas all said they were “highly concerned” about the United Auto Workers’ organizing campaigns in the region.

Workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant are voting from Wednesday to Friday to determine whether they will join the UAW. A victory for the union wouldn’t necessarily end there: Workers at the Mercedes-Benz plant near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, have also petitioned for a union election, while the UAW also has an active campaign at a Hyundai facility in Montgomery.

The South can be hostile territory for unions, as evidenced by the unusual co-signed statement. The governors accused the UAW of deploying “misinformation and scare tactics” at the same time they suggested workers could lose their jobs by forming unions.

“We have worked tirelessly on behalf of our constituents to bring good-paying jobs to our states,” they wrote. “These jobs have become part of the fabric of the automotive manufacturing industry. Unionization would certainly put our states’ jobs in jeopardy.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey shared the statement on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, and said that “as governors, we speak up when we see special interests looking to threaten our states’ jobs & values.”

Pro-labor X users recommended Ivey “cry harder.”

The UAW previously lost two plantwide elections at the Chattanooga facility, but union supporters are optimistic they will win on the third try. A ballot count is expected to begin Friday night.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R), one of the letter’s signatories, has tried to discourage the Chattanooga workers from unionizing. He gave a speech at the plant during a 2019 campaign urging workers to keep a “direct relationship with the company.” And he’s waded into the current drive as well, saying publicly last week that organizing the plant would be a “big mistake.”

Yolanda Peoples, an assembly worker at the plant who’s active on the union’s organizing committee, told HuffPost that most employees wish the politicians would mind their own business and let them vote how they see fit.

“They just wish the politicians would keep their heads out of it,” Peoples said.