Kemp plans to make it tougher for workers to organize, form unions in Georgia

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks at Georgia Chamber Eggs and Issues at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Jan. 10, 2024, in Atlanta, Ga. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp stated earlier this week that he hopes to slow down the labor movement in Georgia this legislative session, announcing plans to propose legislation that could make it more difficult for workers to form unions.

On Wednesday, Kemp spoke to hundreds of business leaders and elected officials at Georgia Chamber’s annual Eggs & Issues Breakfast inside the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“Georgians have a right to opportunity. We will defend that right against the big overreaches, or the overreaches of big government and big labor,” said Kemp.

Currently, businesses in the state can recognize union representation without an election. Under the proposed legislation, businesses that do this will have to forfeit their state incentives.

“What the Governor made clear today was that we want to make sure that if you do want to look at unionization, make sure people have the right to do so in the privacy of their own vote,” said Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, shortly after the event.

In addition, Hannah Perkins with the Georgia AFL-CIO stated in a recent press release that the Governor’s comments were a “slap in the face to the millions of his constituents.”

“Unions are growing in Georgia,” said Yvonne Brooks, president of the Georgia State AFL-CIO. “Since 2011, the number of union members has been growing every year. And I suspect when the numbers come out this year, there’ll be a big jump.”

Brooks believes that Kemp’s speech reflects a fear of the growing interest in union membership here, noting that Georgia was at the center of the successful organizing efforts, like with the Teamsters at UPS and the actors in the Screen Actors Guild.

She expects more campaigns to launch this year.