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Alabama: A New Detroit, Or A New Bangladesh?47:41

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When Alabama drew auto jobs south, it also got low wages and lots of injuries. We’ll look at the message for American manufacturing.

In this Sept. 18, 2015 file photo, sparks fly as a welder works on a frame for a school bus at Blue Bird Corporation's manufacturing facility in Fort Valley, Ga. (David Goldman/AP)
In this Sept. 18, 2015 file photo, sparks fly as a welder works on a frame for a school bus at Blue Bird Corporation's manufacturing facility in Fort Valley, Ga. (David Goldman/AP)

Alabama’s in the news today for a governor who stepped down. Hanky panky problems. But keep your eye on what makes Alabama money, and how. The auto industry has moved south in a big way.  American manufacturing jobs. But Alabama parts makers have brought low pay, long hours and shocking records of worker injury. A damning new report sounds like Bangladesh in the USA. This hour On Point, the hard side of Alabama’s automotive jobs boom. — Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Peter Waldman, reporter at Bloomberg News.

David Michaels, professor in the George Washington University Department of Environmental and Occupational Health. Former Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Jim Searcy, executive director of the Economic Development Association of Alabama.

Angel Ogle, mother of Regina Elsea, a 20-year old woman who was killed in June 2016 while working at auto parts supplier Ajin USA.

From Tom’s Reading List

Bloomberg Businessweek: Inside Alabama’s Auto Jobs Boom: Cheap Wages, Little Training, Crushed Limbs — "Parts suppliers in the American South compete for low-margin orders against suppliers in Mexico and Asia. They promise delivery schedules they can’t possibly meet and face ruinous penalties if they fall short. Employees work ungodly hours, six or seven days a week, for months on end. Pay is low, turnover is high, training is scant, and safety is an afterthought, usually after someone is badly hurt. Many of the same woes that typify work conditions at contract manufacturers across Asia now bedevil parts plants in the South."

Alabama.com: Alabama auto supplier, agencies fined $2.5 million after woman crushed — "According to a Department of Labor news release, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a total of 27 citations against Ajin USA of Cusseta, and two staffing agencies - Alliance Total Solutions and Joynus Staffing Corp. - for safety violations."

Birmingham Business Journal: How Alabama can avoid being the next Detroit — "Over the last three decades, the automotive manufacturing sector has driven like a beeline south to Alabama, where wages are reasonable, workers are well trained and incentives and land are aplenty. The Southern migration contributed to the destruction of longtime American automaking strongholds like Detroit."

Autoparts Suppliers Located In Alabama

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(All Maps Courtesy Alabama Department of Commerce)

This program aired on April 11, 2017.

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