Worker-friendly or business-friendly? States face false choice: Alabama Gov. Ivey

  • In 2016, Alabama voters approved adding right-to-work to its state constitution, shoring up a provision that has been on the books in Alabama for decades.
  • Since Missouri added a right to work law in February, there are 28 states in the U.S. with right to work legislation, designed to limit the reach of labor unions.
  • Governor Ivey's first major act, the Alabama Jobs Act, was a revision and extension of a jobs bill first signed in 2015 to make the state and its incentive packages more competitive in bidding for business.
  • Airbus opened its $600 million assembly plant in Mobile in 2015. Mercedes-Benz (1993), Honda (1999) and Hyundai (2002), are among auto manufacturers that have plants in Alabama.
  • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' private space company Blue Origin announced plans in June to build a rocket engine facility in Alabama.

Every state in the nation is facing challenges. Alabama is no different.

Our legislature faces challenges, our prisons face challenges, as does our education system and our state's Medicaid program. Challenges abound. Yet, there are very few challenges which can't be addressed by putting people back to work.

A good-paying job goes a long way in curing what ails a state and its people. In Alabama, our goal is to attract good-paying jobs by producing an environment in which businesses do not just survive, but succeed and eventually expand. Our positive-business environment makes Alabama a top state for businesses.

The fuselage of an Airbus A321 in Airbus' first US manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama. Airbus plans to assemble 40-50 of its single-aisle A-320 family every year beginning in 2018 from the plant, built on the site of a World War II bomber support base.
NICHOLAS KAMM | AFP | Getty Images
The fuselage of an Airbus A321 in Airbus' first US manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama. Airbus plans to assemble 40-50 of its single-aisle A-320 family every year beginning in 2018 from the plant, built on the site of a World War II bomber support base.

Recently, we adopted an amendment to our Constitution which cements our status as a right to work state. By telling companies that they cannot deny employment to someone because of union membership, or because of a lack thereof, we are sending a strong message to businesses that we want to create an atmosphere in which they can be successful. This common-sense approach puts all workers on an even playing field and gives companies confidence that they can hire the best available workers. This policy has allowed us to attract automobile manufactures to a state once known for its steel industry.

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To be a top-state for businesses, we must attract top-businesses; that requires incentives. In Alabama, we understand that incentives encourage businesses to come to our state or to increase the investment they already have here. My first major legislative push as governor was the Alabama Jobs Act. This bill, which I have since signed into law, made it clear that our state would invest in businesses which are willing to invest in us and in our people. This is part of the process of building relationships, thereby attracting new economic investment because business leaders feel comfortable with our state and because they know we value them and want them in Alabama. Our state is becoming a hub of investment for the aerospace industry because of our approach.

Once a company comes to Alabama, it can rest assured that we are a top-state for business because we are committed to cutting unnecessary regulation which increases its costs to operate. This year, our legislature passed several pieces of legislation which easies the regulatory burden on those who seek to create jobs in our state. From clarifying workman's compensation laws, to making sure that small businesses don't have to pay licensing fees in multiple municipalities. My goal is to make it easier to operate a business in Alabama, not make it harder. A positive business environment limits government overreach, making it easier to run a company here.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey
Office of the Alabama Governor
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey
"There has long been a false dichotomy that a state is either worker-friendly or business-friendly. In Alabama, we reject this assertion."

Alabama is a top-business state by showing those businesses we want to attract, and to retain, that we don't just want them in Alabama. But, we want them to thrive.

In Alabama, we encourage success, not deride or belittle it. Success is not something to be shunned, but should be encouraged and embraced.

When job-creators are successful, their employees are successful, local communities become successful, and ultimately, our state shares in that success. There has long been a false dichotomy that a state is either worker-friendly or business-friendly. In Alabama, we reject this assertion and I am proud to say I work every day to create an environment which produces strong businesses which in turn provide good wages for our people.

I want every Alabamian who wants a job to have one. That quest starts by letting businesses know that Alabama can only be a top-state for business if our businesses are able to also be at the top.

By Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey

Editor's note: This commentary was written before the release of the Top States 2017 data. The governor did not have knowledge of the rankings or the comprehensive data.

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