Alexander: To Keep Auto Jobs Coming to Tennessee, We Must Defend Right-to-Work Law, Keep the Best Highways, Improve Job Skills

In address to auto industry leaders, Alexander says he will fight Obama administration’s efforts to undermine right-to-work laws, which are the “major reason the auto industry is in our state”

Posted on October 23, 2014


NASHVILLE, Oct. 23, 2014 - U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today told leaders of the auto industry that in order to maintain its position as the nation's leading state for new auto jobs, Tennessee needs to defend its right-to-work law, continue to have the nation's best four-lane highway system, and provide a skilled workforce for the advanced manufacturers that are looking for a place to “build in the United States what they sell in the United States.”

Speaking at the AutoConnect 2014 luncheon, Alexander said, “If I am chairman of the Senate education and labor Committee, I will fight efforts by the Obama administration to undermine right-to-work laws and will work to simplify the student aid application form, which has become the principal obstacle to a free college education for many students.”

He continued, “The Obama administration is constantly seeking to undermine the right of each state to enact a right-to-work law.” He cited action by the National Labor Relations Board to stop Boeing, which built a plant in South Carolina, because it would expand from a non-right-to-work state to a right-to-work state.

He also praised Tennessee for maintaining the best highways with zero road debt, which has been one of the major reasons auto suppliers have been willing to spread into 80 of Tennessee’s 95 counties instead of clustering only around the large auto assembly plants. “Congress,” he said, “should emulate Tennessee’s plan of enacting a long-term federal road program without adding to the nation's debt.”

Finally, he said that simplifying the application form for student aid to attend college could remove what has become the principal obstacle for many students hoping to attend college. Alexander and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Co.) will soon introduce legislation to reduce the 108-question student aid application form, known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), to only two questions: What is your family size? And, what income did you report to the Internal Revenue Service?

Alexander said that the president of Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis told him the college loses 1,500 students each semester because students and their families are intimidated by completing “the dreaded FAFSA application form.” He said 440,000 Tennesseans must fill out the complicated form each year and that witnesses before the Senate education committee have said that almost all the questions are unnecessary. By eliminating the complicated FAFSA application form, Alexander said more students can attend college, which will lead to a more skilled workforce that can find more “high quality, good paying jobs.”

“I’ve recently visited several of the new auto manufacturing plants and suppliers around the state,” he continued, “and it is evident that our state is the right place for the auto industry and the many good jobs it brings. At a time when it’s too hard for Americans to find a job, Tennessee needs to continue to provide a friendly business climate to the auto industry with strong right-to-work laws, a skilled workforce, and the best highway system to keep attracting these new good jobs to our state.”

As Governor, Alexander recruited Nissan, which brought its first plant in the U.S. to Tennessee in 1980. In 1985, Saturn also chose Tennessee for the location of its auto plant. Combined with Volkswagen, these original equipment manufacturers created 12,000 jobs. Today, one-third of the manufacturing jobs in Tennessee are in the automotive industry, and Tennessee has auto suppliers in 80 of its 95 counties. 


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