Southern governors: Joining UAW would threaten jobs, ‘values’

The governors of six Southern states warned workers that joining the United Auto Workers (UAW) union would threaten their job security and the “values we live by.”

The joint statement, signed on by Republican Govs. Bill Lee (Tenn.), Kay Ivey (Ala.), Brian Kemp (Ga.), Tate Reeves (Miss.), Henry McMaster (S.C.), and Greg Abbott (Texas), was issued Tuesday — just a day before a Volkswagen (VW) plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., is expected to vote on whether to organize with UAW.

The governors, in their statement, said they are “highly concerned about the unionization campaign driven by misinformation and scare tactics that the UAW has brought into our states.”

“As Governors, we have a responsibility to our constituents to speak up when we see special interests looking to come into our state and threaten our jobs and the values we live by,” the group wrote.

Workers’ attempts to unionize at the VW plant have failed twice, once in 2014 and 2019, both times defaulting with vote-count margins.

Ivey shared the statement in a post on the social platform X, arguing against the union’s effort to mobilize Alabama workers.

“The UAW has come in making big promises they can’t keep — we won’t stand for that,” she wrote, echoing sentiments made in the joint memo.

UAW strategist Chris Brooks replied to Ivey’s remarks on X, claiming the governors who signed onto the letter are “so scared.”

When The Hill reached out to UAW about the governors’ letter, the union did not provide comment.

Democratic governors have been more supportive of the auto union’s effort to expand across the country. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) praised the UAW last week, stating the union helps better workers’ quality of life and living standard.

“Unions have helped build our commonwealth and country, while raising the standard of living and quality of life for our workers,” Beshear posted on X. “I’m always proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my friends at @UAW.”

The Republican governors, however, expressed concerns about UAW’s intentions and mission. They also criticized the organization for endorsing President Biden’s reelection bid.

“We have serious reservations that the UAW leadership can represent our values,” they wrote. “They proudly call themselves democratic socialists and seem more focused on helping President Biden get reelected than on the autoworker jobs being cut at plants they already represent.”

The latest round of votes at the VW plant start Wednesday and are expected to go for three days. Results are expected Friday.

The UAW made headlines last year when employees walked out on the former “Big Three” automakers. They ultimately reached agreements with the companies — Ford, General Motors and Stellantis — in late October after striking for six weeks.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.