organize the south! a compilation of links updated 9/26/14


Southern Workers Assembly
Southern Workers Assembly

organize the south! a compilation of links

intro:  strategic importance of the US south

I couple of weeks ago, I attended a workshop on Organizing the South (OTS) led by Saladin Muhammad of the Southern Workers’ Alliance and the North Carolina-based Black Workers for Justice.  As a long-time activist in the Southern labor movement, Brother Muhammad advocates the formation of a Southern Workers Congress that would advance the struggles of Southern workers and allow workers to articulate their own political program.    Below, I’m posting some links on OTS.

Given the current state of crisis of the US labor movement, organizing the South is of critical strategic importance.  Organizing the South is essential both to the renewal of the US labor movement and to the future of independent working class politics.

third world within

In the postwar years,  US industrial capitalists began shifting production to the low-wage, nonunion,  South, where Jim Crow laws and the “right-to-work” laws guarantee a “favorable” business environment.  What we are seeing is the fruits of the failure of “operation Dixie”, the ill-fated attempt to organize the South in the 1940s and the passage of right-to-work in the states of the old confederacy. Foreign capital has invested in the South as well as US business. The South has become the center of the US auto industry with only one GM plant unionized.  Boeing Aircraft built a plant in Charleston, South Carolina, in a blatant union busting move.   The US ruling class has created a low wage enclave that mirrors in some ways the working and living conditions of third world workers.

strategic importance for the us labor movement

The South is a knife held to the throat of the US working class. Organizing the South is essential to reversing the corrosive effects of  the decades long employers offensive. Traditional business unionism and top-down bureaucratic organizing drives will not be sufficient to reverse the downward spiral of the unions. The unions must tackle racism as the central obstacle to both working class unity and to class consciousness. This means social movement, or class struggle, unionism must replace bureaucratized business unionism.

Organizing the South is not simply a “bread and butter”  shopfloor question. It is a central  political struggle for the US working class as a whole. The South, with its low wages and reactionary political environment, drags the US political system to the right. Organizing the South will require political struggle as well as economic struggle.  This puts the question of an independent working class political party on the agenda. The twin parties of capital, the Republicans and Democrats, are both opposed to the interests of workers and oppressed people. The South is one of the keys to socialist revolution in the US.

Southern Workers Assembly Web Site


In the Shadow of the DNC, Organizers Call for a Unionized South Working In These Times

Black Workers for Justice

Southern Movement Assembly

North Carolina Center Creates Alternatives for Black Workers in Union-Hostile South  Labor Notes


Auto sector

After UAW Defeat at VW, Finding a Way Forward by Ron Lare, Solidarity, (Lare is a former E Board member of UAW 600) (added 3/15/14)

The Battle for Chattanooga: Southern Masculinity and the Anti-Union Campaign at Volkswagen, Mike Elk ITT (added 3/14/14)

UAW Leaders’ Pro-corporate Approach Crashes in Chattanooga Socialist Alternative, (added 3/14/14)

Bargaining to disorganize?  Steve Early, Socialist Worker (added 2/22/14)

Chattanooga Shoo-Shoo, Bill Onash, Socialist Action (added 2/19/14)

Union leaders condemn ‘despicable’ GOP effort to influence UAW vote Guardian UK   (added 2/18/14)

So the UAW Lost, What Can Be Done? Some History Lessons  LAWCHA (added 2/17/14)

After Historic UAW Defeat at Tennessee Volkswagen Plant, Theories Abound In These Times  (added 2/16/14)

Volkswagen Workers Vote on Union, Works Council Scheme Labor Notes  (added 2/16/14)

Defeat of Auto Union in Tennessee Casts Its Strategy Into Doubt  New York Times  (added 2/16/14)

Tenn. Lawmakers Threaten to Block Subsidies If VW Plant Unionizes  In These Times  (added 2/16/14)

UAW Says It Will Go ‘All In’ To Organize Foreign-Owned Auto Plants Labor Notes

Globalization Now: The North American Auto Industry Goes South   MR Zine


Making the South union-strong Socialist Worker

Independent Politics and Self-Determination  interview with Chokwe Lumumba


New Immigrants in a New South MR Zine

1934: Strike wave in the South  Socialist Worker

Behind labor’s long retreat  Socialist Worker

The Communist Party and Black Liberation in the 1930s International Socialist Review

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