A joint venture for Toyota and Mazda, an Alabama plant that is a $1.6 billion investment in a Right to Work state, is and is not a win for workers.
According to The Associated Press, the decision to pick Alabama is another example of foreign-based automakers building U.S. factories in the South.
The companies have located there due largely to what the AP describes as “lower wages” and to avoid the United Auto Workers union, which is stronger in the Northern states.
"The second stroke of that statement might be true, that automotive manufacturers are looking for Right to Work states so the relationship between their employees and the employers can be cordial, as opposed to injecting a third party between them and having a confrontational relationship, which the UAW and other unions tend to use as a tool when they represent workers at workplaces," responds Mark Mix of the National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC).
What is not true, says Mix, is that workers make lower wages.
"A study done in 2015 in Alabama with the Daimler Automotive Group down there, and the Center for Automotive Research, actually found that workers in the Right to Work state of Alabama made more wages than workers in Detroit, Michigan, than workers in the auto industry," Mix explains. "That's just ridiculous. And that's just something that union officials have tried to use over and over again as automotive manufacturing does migrate to Right to Work states."
According to Mix, about 72 percent of all automotive manufacturing in the country now occurs in states with Right to Work laws.
"That does not mean that there is not unions in the automotive industry," he adds. "There certainly are, but the workers have a choice about whether to pay dues or fees to get or keep a job, and the automotive industries recognize that it's a good place to do business when you have a chance to give workers a choice about union representation as opposed to union monopoly power."