The Georgia House of Representatives passes a bill that creates difficulties for companies seeking government incentives to organize unions – WABE

On Wednesday, Senate Bill 362 passed the state House by a vote of 96-78. The bill, sponsored by Gov. Brian Kemp, is on his desk for his signature.

According to the law, if workers want to unionize, they can only do so through a secret union vote. If they sign union cards, which organizers say is a more accessible method, the company they work for cannot benefit from government economic incentives.

House Democrats say SB 362 violates federal law.

“This bill is a solution in search of a problem.”

Dewey McClain, Georgia State House Representative District 109

“If this bill passes, there will be a lawsuit that will cost Georgia taxpayers millions of dollars, and the state will lose,” said Democratic state Rep. Saira Draper.

Dewey McClain, a member of the Georgia House of Representatives and former president of the Atlanta North Georgia Labor Council (AFL-CIO), also voted against the measure.

“This bill is a solution in search of a problem.” he noticed.

Senate Bill 362 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 96-78. The bill, sponsored by Gov. Brian Kemp, heads to his desk for his signature. (Rahul Bali/WABE)

Georgia ranks eighth among states in union membership, with only 4.4% of the state's more than 5.3 million workers in unions.

House Republicans claim the measure does not violate the National Labor Relations Act. The bill is similar to one passed in our northern neighbor Tennessee in 2023.

The governor's caucus leader, Rep. Will Wade, R-Dawsonville, speaks in favor of SB 362 on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

“I contacted the Tennessee legislature. “The speaker’s office general counsel told me that it has been a year since the bills were passed and there has been no litigation with the National Labor Board,” said Republican Rep. Bill Werkheiser.

“I expect there will be a lawsuit as early as 2025 if this legislation becomes law and is fully enforced,” said Hannah Perkins, political director and campaign manager for the Georgia AFL-CIO.

Labor representatives and union members wait on the third floor of the Capitol for the results of the House vote on SB362. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

In an emailed press release from the Georgia AFL-CIO, President Yvonne Brooks says the legislation attacks workers' rights.

“We strongly condemn the passage of SB-362,” she said. “Georgia’s working families deserve lawmakers who will defend our right to organize and advocate for good union jobs with fair pay and good benefits.”