Mayor against possible labor union at S.M.A.R.T. Plant
Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 21, 2006
Since the beginning of the Tier One automotive supplier in 2004 with its mass productions' launch in March of 2005, S.M.A.R.T. Alabama, LLC has made its mark on the local economy of Crenshaw County, according to Luverne Mayor Joe Rex Sport.
“The company now employs over 700 people, with almost 500 of those living in Crenshaw County,” Sport said. “Over 250 S.M.A.R.T. employees alone live in Luverne.”
Sport recently met with several officials from the Hyundai supplier facility, and he said that he was “enthused over the prospects of growth there.”
“The S.M.A.R.T. officials indicated to me that there is a real potential for future growth and expansion at the facility, which, of course, means more new jobs,” he said. “They also indicated that the works were in place for possible future expansion of its parent company, Shin Young Metals.”
“If Shin Young grows, that can only mean good things for S.M.A.R.T., the city of Luverne and for all of Crenshaw County,” he added.
However, Sport said that there appears to be a “black cloud” that could be hanging over the plant's future.
“There are always the impending threats of labor unions coming in, and with S.M.A.R.T. being an automotive supplier, they are being realistic about this possible situation,” he said. “They are very concerned about being targeted for a possible union campaign.”
Sport said that the community as a whole should “share that concern.” He cited where in Alabama alone, over 35 industries have closed in the last three years due to union demands.
“The news is filled with problems at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler,” he said. “Plants have closed in the past and have moved out of the country to avoid labor unions.”
The state of Michigan has lost over 300,000 jobs in the last three to five years, mainly in the automotive industry, with much of that due to union problems.
As a matter of fact, the employees of Daehan Solution in Lowndes County recently voted against union organization.
“Michigan's losses have definitely been our gain,” Sport said. “And, I believe that in order to keep our gains in place, we must all help assure that S.M.A.R.T. remains union-free.”
“One thing that I feel sure the company has going for it is that our people have never been the kind to ask for help from outsidersŠI firmly believe that Crenshaw County's workforce does not want people talking for them because they can do that for themselves.”
Sport said that he sees a lot of “potential” in the city's and in the county's future growth, with S.M.A.R.T. being a major economic impact in that future growth.
“It stands to reason that if S.M.A.R.T. can continue to establish itself as a union-free, high-impact manufacturer, then other companies will follow suit,” he added. “I may not see it all in my lifetime, but our children and their children will certainly reap the rewards.”