ATLANTA – Gov. Brian Kemp has signed controversial legislation prohibiting businesses seeking state economic development incentives from voluntarily recognizing unions if a secret-ballot election option is available.

Senate Bill 362, which cleared the General Assembly’s Republican majorities largely along party lines, was part of Kemp’s agenda for the 2024 legislative session and was backed by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. The governor signed the measure on Monday.

GOP lawmakers argued that secret-ballot elections protect workers’ right to privacy. Among its provisions, the bill forbids companies from disclosing their workers’ contact information to union organizers without written permission.

Democrats countered the measure is part of an effort by southern Republican governors to push back on union gains in the South, including last week’s vote by workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga to join the United Auto Workers.

“SB 362 is a direct attack on workers, businesses, and labor unions that will disqualify any business voluntarily recognizing a labor union in their workplace from receiving state economic incentives,” the Democratic Party of Georgia wrote in a statement. “[It’s] a violation of federal labor law that puts Georgia taxpayers on the hook to pay all the legal fees the state will spend defending their overreach in court.”

Also on Monday, Kemp signed the Safe at Home Act. House Bill 404 provides renters in Georgia new rights by requiring rental properties to be “fit for human habitation” upon signing a lease. Landlords also will be required to maintain their properties throughout the lease.