Over the past 20 years, global corporations have opened large-scale heavy transportation manufacturing facilities in the Southern U.S. Many factors have led to this rapid growth of Southern transportation manufacturing, including Buy America rules governing public procurement of manufactured goods, the advertisement of “union-free” environments, and rising transportation costs related to overseas production.
While these factories and warehouses have created jobs throughout the South, growing evidence suggests that manufacturers have also exacerbated poverty with low wages and temporary jobs, disregarded health and safety concerns, contributed to environmental problems, and engaged in racial and gender discrimination. In addition, many of these Southern-based factories have received billions in public subsidies from state and local governments in exchange for vague commitments to “create jobs” with few corresponding commitments to hire and invest in a manner that helps the large numbers of low-income families in states like Alabama.
Jobs to Move America released this white paper documenting the results of interviews with New Flyer workers and preliminary findings from an academic study of manufacturing workers across Alabama and Mississippi by Alabama A&M University’s (AAMU) that JMA is helping to fund. In the report, JMA documented worker reports of significant mandatory overtime, disparate treatment based on race and gender and complaints about retaliation for speaking up about problems.
JMA’s interviews and the preliminary findings from the AAMU research include:
- African American survey respondents were more than twice as likely to say that, as far as they knew, discrimination was a “big problem” in their workplace. Surveyed workers reported being denied promotions, feeling isolated, receiving less support from management, and being treated as if they were incompetent because of their race.
- In interviews with JMA, workers stated that they had experienced race-based discrimination and sexual harassment and discrimination in New Flyer’s Anniston facility.
- Anniston survey respondents reported retaliation for speaking up about problems at work, including being assigned too much work or hazardous work. Surveyed workers also reported that they did not feel that they could report issues with the assembly or manufacture of the product without retaliation.
- Workers interviewed by JMA reported working long hours, having little control over their schedules, and experiencing significant mandatory overtime.
- New Flyer workers also had concerns about the safety of their workplaces. Fifteen percent of the AAMU survey’s respondents reported being seriously injured on the job and two reported filing complaints about dangerous working conditions.
- Additionally, in 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined New Flyer for safety problems at its Anniston plant.