by Mo Karnage in Richmond, Virginia
The South isn’t known for our good labor practices – and that might be an understatement.
In the Southern context labor has always looked different. Exploitation of workers has often taken a grim tone, slavery and coal mines being just two examples. I’m not giving yall Yankees or Capitalism in general an out here, both perpetuate a classist society, exploit workers out of greed, and generally benefit from the extra exploitation workers in the South put up with. But anyone from the South will tell you, exploitation down here has a different feel.
In the South, we don’t have a living context for unions- instead we have the “right to work”. The “right to work” laws are actually just anti-union and anti-labor laws with a deceptive name. While historically all states had extremely exploitative labor practices and anti-union laws, currently, the spread of “right to work” policies holds almost the entire South back in terms of labor organizing. This is just one way in which Southern workers have it worse than workers else where.
Unions have been so repressed that the work to build one is really complex. There is a lot of anti-union rhetoric out there, even to the point of being included in employee training videos by giant corporations. The economy has changed since the hey day of unions, and it is difficult to imagine what a union in the South would look like now.
Well, the Fast Food Worker’s are about to show everyone one way a union can look on Thursday, December 5th.
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