Sen. Lamar Alexander props up right-to-work states
June 4th, 2011
12:39 PM ET
9 years ago

Sen. Lamar Alexander props up right-to-work states

(CNN)-Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander railed against the Obama administration in Saturday's GOP weekly address. Taking aim at actions by the National Labor Relations Board, Alexander championed right-to-work laws that "protect a worker's right to join or not to join a union."

The second-term senator supported the rights of unionized companies to expand into states with right-to-work laws as a way to make it "easier and cheaper to create private sector jobs here in America."

"We can start by helping companies make in the United States what they sell in the Unites States," he said, "but unfortunately recent actions by the administration are making that hard to accomplish."

Alexander blasted the NLRB decision to stop Boeing Company from building airplanes at a non-union plant in South Carolina.

"The NLRB and unions want to make it illegal for a company that has experienced repeated strikes to move production to a state with a right-to-work law," he declared.

Seeing a bleak future for jobs in the shadow of the NLRB, the former governor said, "What would this mean for the future of American auto jobs? Well jobs would flee overseas as manufacturers look for a competitive environment in which to make and sell their products around the world."

The senator countered President Obama's herald of the U.S. auto industry's comeback in his own weekly address by citing success of foreign companies on American soil. He specifically recalled his time as governor, when he was able to attract Japanese business to Tennessee instead of Kentucky–based largely on the allure of Tennessee's right-to-work law, which Kentucky lacked.

Alexander described his early triumph as a foundation for future growth.

"Nissan's success [in Tennessee] is one reason why Volkswagen last week opened its North American manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, and why Honda, Toyota, BMW, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and thousands of suppliers have chosen southeastern right-to-work states for their plants," he said.

And as a final argument for the importance of right-to-work states, Alexander said, "Giving workers the right to join or not join a union helps to create a competitive environment in which more manufacturers like Nissan and Boeing can make here what they sell here."

Filed under: GOP weekly address • Lamar Alexander
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Martha in CF

    Have you ever wondered Mr. Alexander, if under President Bush, we weren't losing 750,000 jobs a month that we wouldn't be in the mess we are in. President Obama and his people are trying to clean up your mess..........All you Redemplicans need to do is to stop your complaining and do your job.
    Another question for you.....How come you were alone when you were addressing the nation? Usually Boehner, Cantor, and the rest of your cronies are standing behind you.......
    Get to work and get er done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Obama/Biden 2012

    June 4, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. bobden

    Of course. Why would a company want to give money to union workers when they could give that money to the CEO.

    June 4, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  3. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Republicans have given Americans a real "snow job" by giving tax breaks to the rich who they say would create jobs. Truth of the matter is, Republicans lied again. Wakeup people.

    June 4, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. kat

    Thank you for sticking up for hard working Americans. Unions are in the pocket of this administration and need to be held accountable.

    June 4, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. wiredWeirdinSF

    I did not listen, but did he point out that Obozo gave a trillion dollars to the corrupt unions called the "stimulus act" with the promise that unemployment would not rise above 8%. What do you expect from an inept, incompetent president whose only real job was hanging SEIU posters on telephone poles.

    June 4, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Giving workers the right to join or not join a union helps to create a competitive environment in which more manufacturers like Nissan and Boeing can make here what they sell here."
    I would agree with that statement, but unions are more than a collective. Unions require training and examinations of their members in the highly skilled jobs. The Senator cites Nissan as an example of non-union manufacturing success. I cite Nissan as an example of poor workmanship because of the fautly wiring, faulty assembly, and other frequent assembly related problems that Nissan and Infiniti owners are very familiar with.

    June 4, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. Bill

    I thought Piers Morgan was in his seventies.

    June 4, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  8. w l jones

    I grew up in right to work state where men made one dolllar .women seventy five cent and children fifty cent a day. Thank god for union otherwise we here in this area would still been traveling on horse and buggies. Bless.

    June 4, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  9. John

    I believe it the right of any person the right to be or not to be In a UNION. But I don't thing It the Right of the GOV. or Congress or the senate. It the right of the People who choice It IS and only the People. Not like you Republican GOV have takes the right away from the People. I'M mean It the People that put you It these office, So that mean you work for the People. Just like the US Constitution say ( WE THE PEOPLE). It even on Saran Palin Bus ,the only thing Is she don't know what It Mean. And hear of lately You Republican have for gotten It. You have Republican ERIC CANTOR saying that America shouldn't give money to Tornado Victims. What ever happen to help your fellow man. But we can spend billions of dollar In Afghanistan and Iraq and Other country , but we can't help are own people. The bad thing Is was soon as it something happen to his state he will be the first one to see that his state get money to help them. Now What Is It you call someone like that, so that right It a hypocrite. Just like 95% of all Republican and Tea Party. my dad, my brother and me all at one time or another spend time In the Military. And If America Isn't going to take care of there own than It was all just a waste of time. We should All way take care of are own be for you worry about other Country.The Trouble with you Republican In the Last Ten to Twenty years now you Republican have For gotten You work for All American People ,NOT just the RICH AND BIG BUSINESS.

    June 4, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. Alex Apple

    Lamar Alexander....yikes. How did my state elect this guy?

    June 4, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. vic , nashville ,tn

    When Sen, Lamer Alexander were governor Nissan started its Plant in Smyrna I agree

    “Well jobs would flee overseas”

    There are many reason jobs are going overseas pointing one reason unfair one more point we have less unions compare to other nations and their unions have more power

    June 4, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  12. DumbasRocks [R]s

    Make no doubt about it. What this neo-IDIOT and his corporate puppetmasters want is complete subjugation of the American worker. Middle class people who fall for this corporate bullcrap and vote for these kinds of [R] toads are throwing their futures away along with those of their children's and grandchildren's....along with MY and YOUR children's and grandchildren's.

    If this type of threat to America's well-being came from the outside, we'd waterboard it in secret and then let it rot in a cuban jail. Instead, this threat is conjured right here inside America by its own in-bred rightwing underbelly, and the stupid among us fall for it hook-line-and-sinker. Well, guess what I'd like to do to those stupid enough to promote this kind of home-grown economic terrorism (see first sentence of this paragraph)?

    June 4, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  13. Clwyd

    Of course, approach it from the companies point of view and not how the workers would benefit. Sub standard jobs to increase business profits is not acceptable. Work at the expense of the worker!

    June 4, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  14. The POTUS is Obama

    This guy is say something but where is your proof? Obama again has brought American economy back from the brink of destruction; passed the healthcare bill for all working poor to afford; got on BP keisters to fix the oil well that explode in the gulf; created over 100, 000 jobs in the 2 1/2 years; continue to fight two wars he didn't start; and then some. To top it all off, Obama orchestrated an highly military operation with the nations high ranking Navy Seals team to bring to justice the notorious Osama bin Laden. Obama has did what he promised in his first election for POTUS. GOP clowns don't stand a chance. Romney, Huntsmans, Santorum, Pawlenty don't have the experience or the on the job knowledge to counter act anything.

    I voted, I saw, I believe. Obama/Biden 2012

    June 4, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  15. Bobby Ray

    If you look at the field of education, the top 10 states according to SAT score averages, all have strong teacher unions. If you look at the bottom 10 states according to SAT score averages, they all are "right to work" states. Could it be that "right to work" is GOP code for "right to be exploited by an employer"?

    June 4, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. TEW

    Sen Alexanders spin is that if companies relocate to 'right to work' states" like his then those companies will not begin to exploit workers and weed out those workers who want to belong to a union. I wonder how much Sen. Alexander received in campain donations from companies who solicted his support to champion "right to work" legislation. Sen Alexander an those that share his views on right to work laws will not be satified until everyone in the nation is working for a salary that keeps them at or just below the poverty line. Look at all the states that have 'right to work" laws in effect such as Texas and other southern states. Private sector workers are terrified to speak up and address poor working conditions and unfair labor practices and this is why the Republicans are going after public sector unions because of the push – pull effect where private sector employees were migrating to public sector employment because of job security and more attractive working conditions. Bottom line is Sen Alexander and the Republicans want to keep the rich happy and the middle/poor just where they are. Sen Alexander is a hypocrite and only looks out for the weathy and I hope the good people of TN see through his smoke screen and not fall for the falsehoods preached by Sen ALexander and Fred Thompson but I guess you are only as smart as the educational system you have access to.

    June 4, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  17. Ryan NC

    Sure, so that if the company doesn't like what the union requires to protect the employees rights can send everybody home and open shop elsewhere! Just another way to shift the balance towards the employer. Sen. Lamar must be missing the time when workers didn't have any rights and had to work 20 h a day!

    June 4, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  18. maxdenn

    Mr. Alexander is a typical anti-labor politician. Nothing more. Nothing less.

    June 4, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  19. John Burt

    "Right to Work" really means "The Employer can screw the worker whenever he pleases, and the State will back him up."

    June 4, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  20. Lukos

    the problem, as the Obama-administration led NLRB sees it, is that jobs will relocate to states where employees are not legistlatively oblliged to donate to democratic coffers as part of thier mandatory union dues. Right to work state simply offer emplyees a genuine choice of whether or not to join a union. It puts the democratic party in an uncomfortable position of defending the decision to take away someone's freedom to choose.

    June 4, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  21. Rosslaw

    Lamar seems to suffer a little amnesia about the enormous subsidies Tenn. gave Nissan in 2005, including payment of $197,000,000 to move to Tenn., along with reimbursements of $50.00 per employee for relocation expenses. These are about the only clear numbers that Lamar and his ilk would release since the remaing subsidies are hidden in the small print of the typically opaque accounting that we have all come to know and love with Republican administrations whose business model seems to come out of Afghanistan. In 2008, the stakes went up with a $577 million dollar handout to Volkswagen. At least it wasn't money wasted on all those damn workers.

    June 4, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  22. Thankfully Independent

    Businesses that are run by people who can't figure out how to cope with the NLRB should either: (a) find other, more imaginative leaders who are capable of dealing with the NLRB, or (b) stop whining, close up shop and go out of business. Those business were likely to fail anyway, it was just a question of when.

    June 4, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  23. Jay

    Maybe you should try working for a typical corporation without the protections provided by a union first Lamar. They pretty much treat you like you're a paid slave. They overload you with work, pay you as little as possible, have a permanently decreasing benefits level, while the top executives live envious lives.

    You and all the other Republicans living lives above what you wish for the rest of us can all go to Hell.

    June 4, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  24. tz

    We need a national right to work law. This is a basic civil liberties protection. Workers have a right to work without being shaken down by unions.

    June 4, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  25. Georgia

    One thing the "Right To Work" state that I live in has taken this law as a weapon to prop up their budget by not awarding annual merit raises to all State Employees. We have been shouldering this burden for 5 years under two Republican Governors. We have no recourse available other than adjusting our living standards accordingly. This is what sensible state governments wish to avoid.

    June 4, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |