Blog: Southerners Standing Up to Right-Wing Corporate Agenda

By Joe Atkins, HT.com blogger

The lingering image of the happy-go-lucky Southerner, content with his lot, happy to get a pat on the head from the local patriarch, is being shaken to its core. Across the U.S. South, workers, activists and regular citizens are standing up to GOP right-wingers, the Koch Brothers and next-of-kin plutocrats like Art Pope, and privatizing, corporate-driven organizations like ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council).

Let’s take a look:

North Carolina:

The “Moral Monday” protests in North Carolina against the draconian, anti-poor and anti-worker actions of the GOP-controlled General Assembly and Republican governor have led to hundreds of arrests but also a growing national awareness of the right-wing coup d’etat in a state that historian V.O. Key called a “progressive plutocracy” back in 1949 in his classic Southern Politics.

In their 1976 political history of the South, The Transformation of Southern Politics, authors Jack Bass and Walter De Vries updated Key with a reality check on what they called the “progressive myth” of North Carolina. Yes, this is the state that gave us comparatively progressive pols like Terry Sanford, but it also gave us Jesse Helms, the original “Senator No” whose Neanderthal-like progeny now fill the halls of Congress and legislatures across the region.

Nevertheless, this has been a state looked to as a beacon of hope by progressives in the deeper South. That is until GOP leaders took over and began their assault on unemployment benefits, collective bargaining, voter rights, Medicaid and education.

Progressive North Carolinians didn’t take it lying down. They took to the streets with their “Moral Monday” protests, weathering attacks and name-calling from the right, and bringing a public spotlight to what is happening.

On the frontlines covering the protests and the issues behind them, of course, are my friends at the North Carolina-based Institute for Southern Studies in their web magazine, Facing South http://www.southernstudies.org.

Mississippi and Louisiana

Voters in Jackson, Miss., last month elected a mayor who may be the most radical and left-wing elected politician in the South: Chokwe Lumumba, an admirer of Malcolm X and slain Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba, a founder of the Republic of New Afrika and once a defense attorney for rapper Tupac Shakur.

Chokwe Lumumba, who’d previously served on the city council, overcame a veteran incumbent and a Republican-backed African-American businessman to take leadership of Mississippi’s capital and largest city. In a city that’s 80 percent African-American and largely Democrat, Lumumba oversees a comparatively forward-thinking island in what seems to be a Republican-dominated sea, and, believe me, his election sent shock waves across that body of water. However, his election may also point to a changing Mississippi where black and brown minorities, women, and young people are showing signs of increasing restlessness with the old ways.

Lumumba won election as a Democrat but he’s indicated no strong allegiance to the Democratic Party. That allegiance, instead, reaches beyond a two-party system where both parties often seem indistinguishable to the actual people themselves. Sounds pretty radical, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, members of Pipeliners Local 798 are continuing their protest of the Kinder Morgan company’s decision to award the non-union Loutex company a contract to build a pipeline stretching across south Mississippi into Louisiana.

The protest, reported in Labor South back in April, has involved hundreds of workers, and the center of it has now shifted from Columbia, Miss., to the new major warehouse location in Bogalusa, La., says Local 798 member Brian Anderson. “They’re still walking the picket line,” he says.

Georgia

Workers are definitely standing up to their bosses in Georgia. In Savannah, port truck drivers, civil rights activists, faith advocates, and residents have joined a coalition that calls itself “Stand Up for Savannah” to protest what they consider unjust conditions at the Port of Savannah. A forum sponsored by Georgia Local 728 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters several weeks ago attracted some 300 truckers who came and told their stories.

In Atlanta, both union leaders and UPS Freight got a wake-up call last month when the rank-and-file membership of the Teamsters’ union rejected a five-year contract proposal that the leadership and management had both approved. It was a 4,244-to-1,897 vote that left little doubt it was time to go back to the drawing board. The current contract expires July 31.

The vote also was indicative of divisions within the Teamsters’ union, where General President James P. Hoffa and the dissident Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) are often at odds.

Among the issues are the workers’ health care plan, pensions, and other benefits, and subcontracting by the company.

COMING SOON: A look at Walmart and its troubles in D.C., California, Missouri, and Bangladesh. Minimum wage versus living wage disputes, the illegal dumping of hazardous wastes, and the horrible conditions in subcontractors’ factories that have contributed to hundreds of deaths — these are among the issues haunting the Arkansas giant, and they don’t seem to be going away any time soon.

36 COMMENTS

  1. I love how this blog calls right to work states anti-worker. I can’t think of anything more anti-worker than running corporations out of town so there are no jobs. Does this writer realize that states like Michigan and Wisconsin are repealing their union laws because it has made them not economically competitive. That’s why the future is so bright for right to work states in the south. The only people that do well in a union society are the politicians and the mobbed up union bosses.

  2. I love how this blog calls right to work states anti-worker. I can’t think of anything more anti-worker than running corporations out of town so there are no jobs. Does this writer realize that states like Michigan and Wisconsin are repealing their union laws because it has made them not economically competitive. That’s why the future is so bright for right to work states in the south. The only people that do well in a union society are the politicians and the mobbed up union bosses.

  3. Koch industries employees 70,000 workers but for some reason this “blogger” considers them anti worker. Call me crazy but creating jobs for workers seems pretty pro worker. I think paying people not to work with government money seems pretty anti worker.

  4. Koch industries employees 70,000 workers but for some reason this “blogger” considers them anti worker. Call me crazy but creating jobs for workers seems pretty pro worker. I think paying people not to work with government money seems pretty anti worker.

  5. Joe Atkins – since you wrote this from a hole somewhere under the red clay hills of north Mississippi maybe you need to understand the southern psyche: we ain’t taking shit off of anyone. These so called progressives in the south are anomalies to the balance of the region. Progressives in our region will always be (a) urban, (b) faux altruistic, and (c) on the edge as in the lunatic fringe. I am glad a pipeline is being built by non union labor! Why? Because it will be done correctly; on time and without mechanical or operational error. Leave it to a union man to sit on his ass because it is either (a) not his job or (b) not in his time frame. Now you need to go to work for a real newspaper, not a blog, and learn to gather facts and leave your measly ‘open’ minded opinion at home. And one last thing, Hotty Toddy!

  6. Joe Atkins – since you wrote this from a hole somewhere under the red clay hills of north Mississippi maybe you need to understand the southern psyche: we ain’t taking shit off of anyone. These so called progressives in the south are anomalies to the balance of the region. Progressives in our region will always be (a) urban, (b) faux altruistic, and (c) on the edge as in the lunatic fringe. I am glad a pipeline is being built by non union labor! Why? Because it will be done correctly; on time and without mechanical or operational error. Leave it to a union man to sit on his ass because it is either (a) not his job or (b) not in his time frame. Now you need to go to work for a real newspaper, not a blog, and learn to gather facts and leave your measly ‘open’ minded opinion at home. And one last thing, Hotty Toddy!

  7. So now your deleting my comments. Classic liberal move block the opposing view especially if it uses logic not just raw emotion and race baiting. I am surprised you haven’t started yelling racist yet because that’s your next move.

  8. So now your deleting my comments. Classic liberal move block the opposing view especially if it uses logic not just raw emotion and race baiting. I am surprised you haven’t started yelling racist yet because that’s your next move.

  9. Wow! I thought this blog was all about the great things in Oxford and at Ole Miss. You know, arts, entertainment, sports, food, etc. If I want to read political drivel from the extreme left or right, there are plenty (too many) places on the web for me to do that. Not many about Oxford and Ole Miss. Well, I guess this will be one less page cluttering up my news feed.

  10. Wow! I thought this blog was all about the great things in Oxford and at Ole Miss. You know, arts, entertainment, sports, food, etc. If I want to read political drivel from the extreme left or right, there are plenty (too many) places on the web for me to do that. Not many about Oxford and Ole Miss. Well, I guess this will be one less page cluttering up my news feed.

    • Joe and I have been friends for many years and he is one of the nation’s top journalist. We don’t always agree, but I respect his opinions and his work which are published by HottyToddy.com and posted on this, our Facebook page. Our goal is to present all opinions, that is what our Democracy is all about.

  11. Why is this left wing socialist allowed to post on this site? Most uninformed.idiot I have ever seen. Trying to run down the very companies that keeps their ilk working. This is the root cause of most of the problems in this country. The unions single handidly destroyed Detroit.

  12. Why is this left wing socialist allowed to post on this site? Most uninformed.idiot I have ever seen. Trying to run down the very companies that keeps their ilk working. This is the root cause of most of the problems in this country. The unions single handidly destroyed Detroit.

  13. You know if you’ve read more than one political blog on hotty toddy.com that their bloggers are extremely liberal left wing lib tards that don’t have a lick of sense…. what were you expecting, anything different…

  14. You know if you’ve read more than one political blog on hotty toddy.com that their bloggers are extremely liberal left wing lib tards that don’t have a lick of sense…. what were you expecting, anything different…

  15. Liberals never cease to amaze me. Not only is this not the page to do it. They just saw what happened In Detroit and they immediately want to take those failed policies everywhere. I guess if everybody is poor and jobless they will have achieved ultimate equality.

  16. Liberals never cease to amaze me. Not only is this not the page to do it. They just saw what happened In Detroit and they immediately want to take those failed policies everywhere. I guess if everybody is poor and jobless they will have achieved ultimate equality.

  17. As an engineering student, I’ve spent the past two summers working in manufacturing plants. It was hot, sweaty, dirty work, and I wasn’t exactly getting paid top dollar, but I never complained about it. I just think it’s funny that some political science major or business major thinks they know how the real world works and decides that Unions are the savior and right-to-work laws are evil. You’d think in this economy people would be happy to have a job at all, much less a full-time one.

  18. As an engineering student, I’ve spent the past two summers working in manufacturing plants. It was hot, sweaty, dirty work, and I wasn’t exactly getting paid top dollar, but I never complained about it. I just think it’s funny that some political science major or business major thinks they know how the real world works and decides that Unions are the savior and right-to-work laws are evil. You’d think in this economy people would be happy to have a job at all, much less a full-time one.

  19. Well, this Pravda-like article was enough to get me to unlike this page. I have news for whoever runs this site…… no one wants to read this Communist drivel, Comrade. Too bad, because it was a decent page otherwise.

  20. Well, this Pravda-like article was enough to get me to unlike this page. I have news for whoever runs this site…… no one wants to read this Communist drivel, Comrade. Too bad, because it was a decent page otherwise.

Comments are closed.