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Sunday, September 8, 2013
VOICES: Organize the South or die
As the AFL-CIO and its affiliates contemplate the future of the labor movement, national labor leaders should look to the South for a glimpse of what that future might be. Workers in the South have the lowest wages, the fewest worker protections, and the least union representation. For decades, southern states have been "right to work for less" and have limited or denied their public employees the right to collectively bargain. Given the region's culture and laws, unions have not invested heavily in organizing the region. And so, it's no surprise that voters in the South keep electing state and federal officials who vote time and again against workers' interests.
The anti-worker culture of the South has an impact far beyond the Mason-Dixon line. Southern Tea Party conservatives block progressive policies in Congress. Companies are increasingly moving to the South in order to lower labor costs and avoid union contracts. And more states are adopting the union-busting laws that originated in the South and now form the basis for ALEC model bills.