Rally organizer has wrong idea

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 19, 2003

On Friday, a group of citizens from somewhere in Alabama have announced plans to rally at the gates of Hyundai Automotive in Hope Hull because of hiring practices being used by the company. We urge no one to attend.

At the heart of the rally plans, being spearheaded by a guy named Al Henley, is that Hyundai has apparently gone outside the borders of the state of Alabama to hire new workers. The reason Henley believes citizens of this state should rally focuses on a $252 million incentives package given to Hyundai by the state.

We know nothing about Al Henley or what company he represents &045;&045; if he is even associated with a company. In his press release, no organization was listed as a sponsor. However, we believe Henley needs to stay home on Monday, Nov. 17. There is little logic in his rally cry, and he will hurt the workers of Alabama more than he will help if he is successful in carrying out his plan.

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When Alabama legislators approved a $252 million incentives package for Hyundai, they obviously believed having another car plant in the state would provide employment to Alabama workers &045;&045; at that specific car plant. But that was only part of the reason for the incentives package.

The actual Hyundai plant in Hope Hull south of Montgomery will provide in the neighborhood of 1,000 jobs. Those workers &045;&045; whether they come from Alabama or not &045;&045; will put together new cars with parts and devices made all over this state. Yes, those 1,000 jobs are important, but so are the 10,000 other jobs being created from spin-off companies.

Better yet, growth in Alabama’s economy because of Hyundai’s arrival will come in all sorts of ways. New restaurants will open around new car suppliers, providing thousands of jobs around the state. New car suppliers will pay taxes in individual counties and in Alabama, providing much-needed revenue to operate state government. And improvement to communities will increase as new companies invest in Alabama.

Henley probably has the good of Alabamians in mind. Caring about Alabama workers is a noble cause. But Henley’s approach is blind, at best.

He has focused on a small part of the economic picture and will do nothing to improve relations between Hyundai and state workers.

There’s one other problem with Henley’s argument: Any business owner in Alabama knows the need for skilled workers. If a business hires employees that can’t do the job, the business fails.

If Hyundai believes it must have workers from other states, it’s probably because the company needs workers who have specific technical degrees. Henley, and all who support his cause, must realize that Hyundai will pay more in moving expenses to bring new workers to Alabama. Most companies don’t do that unless they have to.

And by the way… Bringing new workers to Alabama is not a bad thing. Tax revenue increases, populations increase, and more federal funding comes with bigger populations.

At the top of Henley’s press release, a second headline reads: "State&Local Officials Scheduled to Attend."

For the sake of our state and our counties, we hope that is a fabrication on Henley’s part.