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Yesterday I talked about Tennessee’s United Campus Workers and began a discussion about why it is so critical for us to organize public employees without collective bargaining in the South. I hope this discussion will grow and spread and spark a real investment in organizing across the South, organizing folks who have the Protection of the First Amendment — freedom of speech, assembly, freedom of association.

Our labor movement and workers need more and more fights for the right to organize and to challenge our historical and terribly destructive inequality. There is real energy in Southern workers. Many lived or grew up in the great Civil Rights Movement. They know the struggle for justice is critical to a better life.

With the great deindustrialization of the last 35 years, our unions lost millions of African-American workers whose parents and grandparents left the peonage and cotton fields of the South for the union jobs in the North. That is a huge part of my own family’s history. We can re-coup that energy, activism, and commitment to collective action and our most reliable electoral allies with a massive organizing campaign of Southern public employees.

Our national political fight is not just about policy, but about salvation of American democracy. It is about the unconscionable wealth and income inequality we face, because of the Republican Tea Party. If the Tea Party thinks it has organization, energy, and intensity they’ve got another thing coming. Let them see organized workers fighting for their kids and grandkids and their own dignity and respect.

We need fights for democracy, fights for justice, fights for a better way of life and standard of living. We can make a big fight across the South — and we must.

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Comment Preferences

  •  These are very important points, and (0+ / 0-)

    I agree wholeheartedly. Being an expat, though, makes it essentially impossible to become very involved in spreading the word or being part of a strong grassroots movement in that direction. Germany (where I have resided for over 25 years) has strong unions and worker representation in larger companies, so it could serve as a model of sorts, adapted to US realities. I've read that Volkswagen labor reps in Germany, for example, are pressuring (forcing?) the company to unionize in their factory in Tennessee, (subject of a couple of diaries here on DK). I'm not sure how willingly the company execs are accepting this, particularly the American managers) but from what I've read it is moving forward, whether the state likes it or not.

    What do you make of the situation, and could it be leveraged to spread to other companies? Or is this unique to German-owned US subsidiaries? It seems to me this could be an important step, but what would be the best way to publicize it? I tend to doubt publications in the South would tout this very much, except as a negative development. I would be interested in your take on this topic.

    „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

    by translatorpro on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 04:39:25 AM PDT

  •  The VW situation in Chattanooga (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is critically important for two reasons:

    1) It can serve as a model for other German owned shops in the South and across America like BMW in South Carolina and Mercedes in Alabama.

    2) Perhaps, most importantly it is a huge example of a foreign owned employer treating American workers like they treat workers in their home countries. If Japan owned companies would do that, tens of thousands of American workers could organize at Nissan, Toyota, and Honda. Organizing in the South is not just possible, it is critical. With or without private sector foreign employers doing the right thing, we need a very large effort to organize public employees in the South.

    •  Thank you. (0+ / 0-)

      I'll dig around a little on this side of the pond and see what I come up with, i.e. if this is a VW thing only or if there's a chance the other big auto companies will follow suit.

      „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

      by translatorpro on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 05:43:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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