GA Chamber’s Clark: Employment Laws Help Job Creation

The following is an Op-Ed submitted by Georgia Chamber President Chris Clark:

Earlier this month our state and nation celebrated Labor Day, a holiday that appropriately recognizes the important contributions made by the American worker today and throughout our history.  Of course, it is impossible to think about who is working today without also remembering the thousands who have found themselves without employment during this challenging time for our economy.

While our state’s recovery has in some ways been slower than many other states, we have continued to attract hundreds of new jobs.  From Hazlehurst to Marietta, Athens to Dublin, numerous companies have announced new locations and expansions, all of which amount to more jobs for Georgians.

Why are these companies choosing our state? The answer is simple – it is a great place to do business.  We offer a temperate climate, a high-capacity logistics system, and globally recognized job-training programs.  Just as importantly, our elected leaders have historically understood what businesses need to succeed and as a result enacted laws that ensure employers the ability to operate in an efficient, profitable manner that allows them to create jobs and invest in their company’s future.  Of particular significance are those laws that govern the concepts of “right-to-work” and “employment-at-will.”

Simply put, right-to-work means that an employee should be able to choose whether or not they want to join a union.  Unlike what some may tell you, the law does not preclude unions from forming, rather it prevents them from coercing workers to join or pay dues.  Employment-at-will gives an employer the ability to hire and fire as they see fit as long as it is done so legally, meaning without violating any discrimination or retaliation laws.

For decades, these common sense concepts have given Georgia a competitive edge in attracting new employers, encouraging expansions and growing our economy, yet they are regularly challenged by those who oppose a free and open workplace.  We cannot afford to lose an important advantage and risk not only the recovery we need so badly today, but the economic longevity we desire for the long term.

Today more than ever it is critical that we take every step possible to attract and create the jobs that our citizens deserve. Our competition is global and companies will only invest where they believe they have a viable future.  The 2011 Area Development Survey, an independent survey of location consultants, ranked Georgia number one for our labor climate, as did CNBC in their 2012 list of Best States for Business, helping us reach number nine overall on that much-watched resource.

Without question, our current right-to-work and employment-at-will laws helped us achieve those rankings, which in turn ensure that Georgia remains at the top of the list for consideration by companies around the world.

As the Georgia Chamber works to make sure our state remains competitive, you can be sure that we will remain vigilant in our efforts to keep these laws in place so that even more Georgians can get back to work and that future Labor Days can be a celebration for us all.

5 comments

  1. bgsmallz says:

    “For decades, these common sense concepts have given Georgia a competitive edge in attracting new employers, encouraging expansions and growing our economy, yet they are regularly challenged by those who oppose a free and open workplace”

    Irony calling….wasn’t the Georgia Chamber of Commerce one of the top proponents of the constitutional amendment strengthening restrictive non-compete agreements which overwhelmingly favored large corporations and employers over employees?

    It’s hard to argue on ‘keep the status quo’ when you are out pushing amendments to the Constitution in order to destroy the status quo…

    • MouthoftheSouth says:

      that’s a fact. you can’t have startups if former employees cannot leave and improve on a business. or, if they have to move out of the state to do it, which is what actually happens.

      • bgsmallz says:

        I thought at the time that the move to change our non-compete laws was short-sighted/anti-free market and I still think that way…the future of high tech jobs and medical jobs will be really, really smart people who have unique skills and talents that they bring to the table. Those people will refuse to work in a state where their market value is undercut by burdensome non-compete laws.

        That’s why I don’t trust Mr. Clark’s vision or version of Georgia law. We had a very fair balance of laws that applied free-market principals equally to the employer and the employee that worked for many, many decades in Georgia…and the GA Chamber of Commerce worked very hard to unhinge that balance to benefit large employers and companies that franchise their businesses.

        I believe that like so many other things taken up by our fair legislature, we are being penny-wise and pound-foolish. We assume that catering to companies like the Atlanta Bread Company (whose lawsuit helped spur on this ‘noble’ change in the law) and their lobbyists make us ‘pro business’…without understanding the simple fact that no business was ever built without talented people…and talented people chose not to work in states that pass burdensome laws to regulate the market for their wages.

        • Dave Bearse says:

          The column is a rear-guard effort that seeks to help insure the Chamber won’t need to spend time and lobbying money defending challenges to existing legislation.

          That way the Chamber’s investment in gifts, campaign contribuations and lobbying dollars can produce the best return in the form new legislation such as the non-compete legislation you mention, and goodies like Plant Vogtle, clear-cutting state ROW for billboards, taxing personal sales of vehicles, a new business tax exemption each year, etc.

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