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It is interesting to read the comments of folks who don’t know Tennessee, who don’t remember when her Senators were James Sasser and Al Gore or all her moderate Democratic governors. Right-wing Republicans in Tennessee don’t campaign against unions.

I may not know everything, but I know the south.

- Would you believe me if I told you that in right-to-work Tennessee there was a Goodyear plant with 2000 workers and only six refused to join the union?
- Would you believe the huge Alcoa plant in East Tennessee has always been union?
- That all the Tennessee Valley Authority that brought electricity to much of the south has always been union.
- That the Tennessee Tombigbee water transportation system was created union.
- That all utilities in Memphis are still publicly owned and all are union.
- That the largest freight carrier in Tennessee and across the south is Teamster.
- That UPS HQ and largest distribution centers are in Atlanta and union.
- That the first farm workers union was created in West Tennessee and East Arkansas called the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union.
- Did you realize the very first sit down strike was in Atlanta, that the Machinists Union was birthed in Atlanta?

Glib dismissiveness of average working people trying to feed their families doesn’t win elections nor does it attract people to a movement for a more just America.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)


    by StewartAcuff on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 05:57:26 AM PST

  •  Some Labor's biggest victories (0+ / 0-)

    in recent years in the private sector have been in the South:

    Smithfield Pork and the Newport News Shipyard in Virginia, 5000 and 12000 workers respectively, 5000 workers at the Avondale Shipyard in Louisiana, 1200 workers at the Delta Pride Catfish plant in Mississippi.

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 06:18:21 AM PST

  •  Could Titans and Grizzlies be added to the list? (0+ / 0-)

    If they have union players?  Are they different (I'm asking because I don't know).  If they are similar why not include them in our discourse to move away from the notion that it's only workers' unions which can be vilified but not unions from professional sports teams (or for that matter actors' unions).  

    And great list to know there ARE unions in the south.  Thanks for this.

  •  Ma Bell Union (0+ / 0-)

    South Central Bell was strong union when I worked in Chattanooga in the 70's and early 80's.  In 1983, fewer than 20 people crossed the picket line in all of Chattanooga.  There were 4 installers and maybe 10 or 12 operators, as I remember.  And management was on our side, too.  Back then, they got what we got, plus a bit more.

  •  Interesting observations, but . . . (0+ / 0-)

    There's no way to deny that Tennessee has swung decisively to the right politically, forsaking its more moderate governance from the not-too-distant past. Right now Tennessee arguably has one of the most conservative legislatures in the country. And we all know that eastern Tennessee in particular is the buckle of the Bible Belt, which translates into some of the reddest counties in the U.S. at election time. Its current government is extremely hostile to unionism & will do anything in its power to undermine union strength & worker solidarity, & there's no prospect of Republicans being turned out of power any time soon. Alabama, Kentucky & West Virginia, like Tennessee, also have a long tradition of union presence, but these states too have swung hard to the right politically. In these times, race trumps class; identity trumps class. Even in places where they are strongly established, unions in the South simply can't turn out the votes the way the Christian conservatives & the Tea Party can.

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