• March 19, 2021 12:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Alabama has been in the national news a lot lately, usually for reasons that are not particularly good. Political foolishness and storm damage account for most of it, but the unionization election at the Amazon fulfillment center has produced the most ink for the past several weeks. That center is in the Birmingham suburb of Bessemer, which was originally best known for manufacturing the Pullman car, the sleepers that were popular on passenger railroads for many years.

    (In recent years, it is probably better known as the home of The Bright Star restaurant, the oldest family-owned restaurant in Alabama, famous for Greek and seafood, in addition to having a visiting chef from Commander’s Palace in New Orleans train kitchen staff on occasion.)

    Most such stories include a statement that Alabama is a “right-to-work” state, which –while true–is also a bit misleading. The origin of that principle is the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, a Federal law that prohibited what was called a “closed shop,” that is, a requirement that all employees hired under specified conditions must be a member of a specific union.

    Alabama common and case law has always upheld that position, and in 2016 Alabama codified it a constitutional amendment, but there have been strong labor unions in our state for all my life.

    Long known as “the Pittsburgh of the south” because of Birmingham’s large steel manufacturing industry, the steel workers union was ubiquitous during my childhood and for many more years. The large US Steel facility was close to Bessemer and many of its employees lived there.

    All the high-rise buildings in Birmingham and most on the UAB campus were framed by members of the Iron Workers union, and of course the large coal mining industry in Alabama employed only members of the United Mine Workers of America, whose Welfare and Retirement Fund was one of father’s first HME company’s largest customers for many years.

    After the decline of steel making and mining, union influence in Alabama largely disappeared, with the auto workers unable to organize any of the plants built here by Mercedes, Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai. Industrial recruiters from Alabama, both state and local, often tout the right-to-work conditions as benefits for potential employers considering Alabama locations.

    Regardless of how you feel about unions, the outcome of this elections will have major consequences for both Amazon and Alabama, which behooves you to pay attention. These comments were prompted by this story in the New York Times.

    To read the entire story, you must open a free account with the paper, but in my experience that has not been an issue. They ask for an email address but haven’t used mine for anything bothersome or unusual, only to invite me to subscribe to a paid version, and you can easily unsubscribe from that mailing list.

  • February 24, 2021 10:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Steve Flowers, a member of the Alabama Legislature for sixteen years, is a widely syndicated political columnist, author, and prognosticator. The last time I spoke with him was on the occasion of an event honoring my long-time State Senator Jabo Wagoner, a friend of our industry. I was the guest of John Beard, then a senior office of Alacare, the state’s largest home health agency and hospice.

    More recently, I’ve been following his editorials in an online publication, Alabama Political Reporter. Steve has written a lot recently about the status of the Alabama Congressional Delegation, much of which addresses topics that are—or should be—of great interest to Alabama HME Providers.

    His latest column begins, “Over the years, I have discussed my observations and concepts of the two different roles or routes taken by a U.S. senator or congressman during their tenure in Washington. One clearly chooses one of two postures in their representation of you in Washington. Our delegates in D.C. are either benefactors or ideologues.

    The role of benefactor is much better for any state, especially Alabama.”

    Read the article here, then return to these comments on how this affects us.

    Without regard to our personal opinions, those who represent ADMEA  to our delegation must avoid any risk of angering a member by disagreeing with either their philosophy or their positions on issues other than ours. Sometimes that is harder to do than other occasions, but we have managed to do that for more than 45 years, establishing good relationships with members and staff through many changes.

    Until several more of the Biden appointees are confirmed, and in many case, only after they have assumed their new positions and completed staff changes in the bureaucracy can we approach them with the expectation of getting a fair hearing on our issues. The AAHomecare staff is experienced in doing that, and they know and have worked with many who were part of the Obama administration. No one anticipates any difficulty in maintaining our progress, as our issues are bipartisan.

    Now that the impeachment trial is behind us and a covid relief package close to being completed, it won’t be too long until we can begin to campaign on both legislative and regulatory fronts to advance our recent gains. Meanwhile, please be patient, not like this:



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