I grew up in a textile town that was once called "The Sock Capitol of the World." So, if you had told me 20 years ago that Alabama would be the top automotive exporter in the country, I probably wouldn't have believed you. 

Everything changed when Mercedes planted roots here in 1997. In the last 27 years, Alabama's automotive industry has gone from nonexistent to nation-leading, providing 47,000 good-paying jobs for Alabamians. 

Unfortunately, success often attracts leeches, and that's exactly what the United Autoworkers of America is – a dangerous leech. 

The UAW business model is simple: Weaponize the workforce, drive up costs, destroy quality and send the state's auto industry up in smoke. 

This shouldn't be news to anyone – the UAW's trail of destruction is well documented. Now that they've sucked all the blood out of cities like Detroit, they have southern states like Alabama in their crosshairs. 

When the UAW shows up at production facilities to give its sales pitch, I’m sure this part is left out: Multiple generations of UAW leaders have a proven history of stealing from members. 

In July 2017, it was revealed that the UAW leadership pocketed millions of dollars intended for training workers. 

According to prosecutors, the UAW spent members' money on first-class air travel, solid-gold pens, a swimming pool, a house, a Ferrari, and other items that offered zero benefit whatsoever to their members. 

This scheme had been happening for years, leading to dozens of convictions. 

Dennis Williams, who served as the UAW's president from 2014 to 2018, pleaded guilty to embezzling money from his members. 

Former UAW President Gary Jones was also found guilty of embezzlement. He served a fraction of his sentence and has since returned to his multi-million-dollar home. 

Joe Ashton, the leader of the UAW's 2011 negotiations with General Motors, was sentenced to 30 months on money laundering and wire fraud charges. 

Former UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell was sentenced to 15 months in prison for his role in a multimillion-dollar corruption scandal involving Fiat Chrysler. 

The list goes on and on. 

The UAW's leadership wants us to believe it has a legacy of fighting for auto workers. The truth is it has a legacy of corruption, destruction and usury. 

A few weeks ago, the UAW used a strategy known as card-check to unionize a Volkswagen facility in Chattanooga, Tenn. This is the UAW’s preferred method because it forces employees to go on the record about whether or not they want to unionize. This is the exact strategy they want to use at the Mercedes plant in Tuscaloosa. 

The House passed SB231 to put an end to this practice in Alabama and ensure that if a vote to unionize is going to occur, it’s going to happen through a secret ballot process that protects employees. 

Alabama has worked too hard to develop our automotive manufacturing industry to see it suffer the same fate as Michigan’s.  

We’re growing like never before, and for that to continue, we must keep the UAW out of our state.

State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) is the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives.

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