FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Labor Needs a Southern Strategy

In case you haven’t noticed, most of the really good manufacturing jobs still left in the U.S. are being moved to the Deep South.  It’s like a vast animal migration.  Think of caribou.  And why wouldn’t companies want to move there?  Cheap labor, no unions, lax pollution standards, huge tax incentives, lucrative subsidies, and the absence of urban blight.  Hell, it’s a corporation’s dream.

With every major foreign automaker—Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, Honda, Kia, Nissan, Hyundai, Volvo—already having billion-dollar assembly plants in states like Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, in another twenty years or so, Dixie will be what Detroit was in its heyday.

And with Dixie as the New Detroit, what will the Old Detroit be?  It will be what it is today, only more so: a sprawling urban wasteland, part of the ever-growing Rust Belt.  In twenty years, American college students will speak of the economic vitality of 1960s Detroit the way they speak of the grandeur of Ancient Rome and Athens.

Labor’s only hope is to organize the South.  They need to do whatever it takes to recruit new union members.  Sponsor rodeos.  Sponsor gun shows.  Sponsor chili cook-offs, monster truck pulls, pee-wee sports leagues.  Hire Tennessee Titan and Atlanta Falcon football players to do radio and TV spots.  Start your own record company, produce country music using home-grown musicians, and put a union-made American flag on your label.

To gain a foothold, organized labor needs to embark upon the Mother of All Public Relations Campaigns.  It should consider putting together a racing team and entering a car in a NASCAR event.  The Teamsters and the SEIU should jointly sponsor a “Change to Win” racing team, using local drivers.  What labor needs more than anything is positive exposure, and lots of it.

Unions should begin making conspicuous donations to impoverished high school football teams in the region, offering to buy new uniforms.  The IAM should make a big deal of inaugurating scholarship programs.  The Steelworkers should give $5,000 grants to deserving high school students, naming him or her as their annual “Student of Steel.”
The AFT (American Federation of Teachers) should establish a generous endowment at the University of Alabama, tied in, perhaps, to the formation of a Chair in Labor Relations.  The AFL-CIO should announce that it’s going to donate money for a new athletic facility at LSU.  The IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) should set up vocational apprenticeship programs at community colleges.

Fortunately, one thing Big Labor still has plenty of—at least for now—is money; but it needs to spend that money more wisely.  Big Labor needs to take the cure—it needs to quit depending on sympathetic, smooth-talking Democrats to carry its water.  Clearly, the American South is where their resources should be focused.

Some smart guy (it may have been labor historian Irving Bernstein, in The Lean Years) once suggested that big-time labor unions should move their national headquarters from Washington D.C. and relocate to a large southern city, like Atlanta, Georgia or Nashville, Tennessee.  It’s a brilliant idea.

If you got ten or twelve of America’s largest unions to relocate to the metropolitan South, and offer its employees top wages and benefits for routine clerical work, word would spread.  Working for a national labor union would now be coveted position.  (“Hey, where do you work?”  “I work for the Teamsters.”).

By becoming an integral part of a municipal economy in the Deep South, organized labor will have effectively infiltrated enemy lines without, figuratively, firing a shot (i.e., without anyone even having to join a union).  Brilliant.

The only reason most blue-chip unions in America (the UAW is a notable exception, with its headquarters at Solidarity House, in Detroit) have their offices in D.C. is, ostensibly, to mingle with the nation’s power brokers.  More accurately, it’s a convenient way for slick lobbyists and predatory Democratic politicians to take the AFL-CIO’s money.

But hasn’t that relationship been one sorry, monumental scam?  I mean, what tangible benefits have been gained by being at the epicenter of America’s political power?  In the 62 years since the Taft-Hartley Act—arguably the most anti-union legislation is U.S. history—organized Labor has poured tens of millions of dollars into efforts to get the Act repealed or, at the minimum, significantly modified, and virtually nothing has come of it.

Instead, organized labor continues to be marginalized, national membership rolls continue to be chipped away, and union members across the country continue to be demoralized.

So why stay in Washington?  Why not move to Dixie, where the battles of the next several decades will almost certainly be fought?  At the very least, the commercial real estate will be much cheaper.

DAVID MACARAY, a Los Angeles playwright (“Americana,” “Larva Boy”) and writer, was a former labor union rep.  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

January 23, 2019
Lee Ballinger
Musical Unity
Elliot Sperber
The Ark Builders
January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail