The manufacturing industry is making a comeback in the Deep South, driven by tax incentives provided by the state and local governments. Alabama and Mississippi rank in the top ten states for transit manufacturing in the nation, and have each granted approximately $3.5 billion in tax incentives and subsidies in the past two decades, with most of those dollars awarded in the past five or six years in exchange for vague, unenforceable commitments to “create jobs.”
The reality is that these companies are exacerbating poverty by paying low wages, hiring for temporary jobs, disregarding health and safety concerns, contributing to environmental problems, and engaging in racial and gender discrimination.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. When companies doing work in the South receive public incentives or support, they should be held accountable to lifting up workers and communities. Our coalition in the South is working to hold these manufacturers’ feet to the fire by organizing to win community benefits agreements that strengthen workers’ rights and communities.
We envision a South where manufacturing jobs are good jobs that offer a living wage and benefits, and that companies commit to hiring goals for marginalized communities, including women, people of color, and people who face barriers to re-entering the workforce.