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Season 4, Episode 240

Alabama auto industry workers’ suffering the focus of new labor report



Guest Name:

Dev Wakeley

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Dev Wakeley, a worker policy advisor for Alabama Arise, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss their recently released 2023 State of Working Alabama report that looks at the auto industry in the state. Wakeley provided some information from the report, an interesting discovery in his interviews and what the United Autoworkers' contract win did for the auto industry wages in Alabama.

Wakeley began his work with Alabama Arise after working in the private sector after law school. Alabama Arise is just shy of 30 years old and has been a leader in anti-poverty work in Alabama. The non-profit organization is member-directed, meaning all initiatives are decided by their members in a vote each year. Alabama Arise has supported unionization and increasing the power of the working class, as that will give workers the protections they need and deserve.

The recently released report on the auto industry in Alabama, A Wheel in the Ditch: A Closer Look at Alabama’s Big Bet on the Auto Manufacturing Industry, looks at how the state has mishandled jobs in the industry. The state has incentivized these auto companies with more than $1.6 billion in public funds, most of which come from the state's education fund, Wakeley said. Since the industry came into the state, wages have stayed stagnant while the cost of living has increased. Previous top wages were under $30 per hour, but he said that following the UAW’s win over the big three automakers in Detroit, top wages have finally crossed the $30 per hour threshold.

During Wakeley’s interviews for their report, he found that the companies would offer occasional buyouts. These buyouts would pay off older workers and open jobs for younger workers. In doing so, they’d constantly renew the youth in the workforce, and the knowledge of benefits and workplace protections would disappear with the departure of the older workers. It was found that these companies kept doing this to take advantage of the ignorance of the younger workers, keep wages low and not have to provide greater protections to workers.

To hear more from Wakeley please press play on the show above.

America’s Work Force is the only daily labor podcast in the US and has been on the air since 1993, supplying listeners with useful, relevant input into their daily lives through fact-finding features, in-depth interviews, informative news segments and practical consumer reports. America’s Work Force is committed to providing an accessible venue in which America's workers and their families can hear discussion on important, relevant topics such as employment, healthcare, legislative action, labor-management relations, corporate practices, finances, local and national politics, consumer reports and labor issues.

America’s Work Force Union Podcast is brought to you in part by our sponsors: AFL-CIO, American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of Musicians Local 4, American Alliance for Manufacturing, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Communication Workers of America, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 50, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Crafts, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, Ironworkers Great Lakes District Council, The Labor Citizen newspaper, Laborers International Union of The National Labor Office of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, North America, North Coast Area Labor Federation, Ohio Federation of Teachers, Survey and Ballot Systems, United Labor Agency, United Steelworkers.


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