By Robert R. Korstad
Drawing on rankings of interviews with black and white tobacco employees in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Robert Korstad brings to existence the forgotten heroes of neighborhood 22 of the meals, Tobacco, Agricultural and Allied employees of America-CIO. those staff faced a procedure of racial capitalism that consigned African americans to the basest jobs within the undefined, perpetuated low wages for all southerners, and shored up white supremacy. Galvanized via the emergence of the CIO, African americans took the lead in a crusade that observed a powerful exertions flow and the reenfranchisement of the southern terrible as keys to reforming the South--and a reformed South as important to the survival and growth of the recent Deal. within the window of chance opened via global battle II, they blurred the bounds among domestic and paintings as they associated civil rights and hard work rights in a bid for justice at paintings and within the public sphere. yet civil rights unionism foundered within the maelstrom of the chilly conflict. Its defeat undermined later efforts by way of civil rights activists to elevate problems with fiscal equality to the ethical excessive floor occupied through the struggle opposed to legalized segregation and, Korstad contends, constrains the clients for justice and democracy at the present time.
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Additional resources for Civil Rights Unionism: Tobacco Workers and the Struggle for Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth-Century South
58 Black provided details of the Saturday meeting between the workers’ committee and management. He read Whitaker’s statement, pointing out the lack of any binding agreement that would protect the workers when they returned to work. He suggested that the workers reject the company proposal and continue the strike. ”59 As he ﬁnished speaking, Black called for a vote on the company’s proposal. Workers deﬁantly registered 32 t h o s e w h o w e r e n o t a f r a i d their stand: no agreement, no work.
The interchange was remarkable. Never before had these women, en masse, spoken so honestly and fearlessly to the chief representative of a company that wielded tremendous control over all their lives. 24 Finally, Whitaker told the workers to select a committee to meet with him the following morning. In so doing, he surrendered a crucial weapon in management’s arsenal: its ability to divide and isolate individual workers. Asking the women in Number 65 to form a committee to discuss their grievances, moreover, legitimated both their complaints and the process of collective action.
A third woman fed the tobacco onto a moving chain that carried it between two circular knives that cut out the stem. Each job required dexterity and intense concentration. The room was hot, the work numbingly repetitive, and the dust from the leaf covered everyone from head to foot by the end of the day. The tobacco moved conthose who were not afraid 15 John Clarke Whitaker (Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection) tinuously, with the speed of the work in the stemmery geared to the needs of the manufacturing division it supplied.
Civil Rights Unionism: Tobacco Workers and the Struggle for Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth-Century South by Robert R. Korstad
Categories: Labor Industrial Relations