For a Southern Organizing Strategy

For a Southern Organizing Strategy

Resolution of the 7th National Convention
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy & Socialism

"Since the early days of the First Reconstruction from the mid-1860s through the present day, Labor’s most difficult challenge has been to organize southern workers."
from speech to NAACP 2012 National Convention by Rev. Dr. William Barber, President of North Carolina NAACP

The US labor movement needs to develop a comprehensive plan to organize workers in the 11 states making up the Southern Region. The very low unionization rate of workers in most southern states is due to the long history of slavery and white supremacy. This has made it easier for conservative and right-wing political forces to operate in the South.

The South has reemerged as a major player in the new global economy, and has become a haven for US manufacturing, foreign investments and finance capital. Because of this reemergence it is now playing an integral role in shaping US labor and social policies.

Corporations in the South have not only exploited southern workers but have also been responsible for the negative environmental impacts on many working class communities, especially the African American, Latino, Native American, Asian and poor white communities. 

Billions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives are being given to corporations at the expense of these struggling communities.

The main strategy of the corporations in the South has been to divide the working class and the oppressed peoples in every way possible through the use of “wedge” politics.  

Anti-immigration bills are being introduced and are rapidly moving through southern legislatures for the sole purpose of creating another source of worker exploitation that is based on race, ethnicity and fear.

Corporate, right-wing and racist forces have embarked upon a comprehensive campaign of voter suppression to bar people of color, working people, and Democratic voters from voting. These right-wing challenges to democracy originate from the Koch Brothers and corporate lobbyist financed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Despite the challenges facing the labor movement to organize the South, southern workers have a rich and long history of resisting exploitation and oppression from their employers. They are ready to join unions and union-sponsored movements in response to an aggressive and comprehensive organizing campaign.  Southern workers today have demonstrated increased militancy and readiness to join unions.

The US labor movement needs a comprehensive region-wide organizing campaign in the South that also supports ongoing local organizing efforts. 

A successful organizing campaign in the southern region will require building multi-racial unity among all workers - Black, Latino, Native American, Asian, white, women and immigrant workers. Special efforts to win white workers over to see their class interests in rejecting divisions based on racism will be crucial. Opposing the influence of sexism and anti-immigrant policies is also key to a united campaign. A successful Southern organizing strategy must employ indigenous southern people familiar with local culture and customs.

 A comprehensive southern union organizing campaign must include building a union-community coalition to significantly increase its power and authority.  We must change the playing field from the company versus the workers, to the company versus the workers and the community.

It is necessary and urgent to initiate the building of a strong broad-based coalition in the South. CCDS welcomes all who are willing to join in with this initiative. A commitment to supporting militant working class struggles against exploitation, racism, and sexism in the South will serve as a model for escalated mobilizations around the country.

CCDS pledges to support the development of a comprehensive campaign to organize workers throughout the southern region.  CCDS urges our members and supporters in the south and in all regions of the country to help by working to get local, regional and state labor bodies to support the organization of the south, and to get their national unions to support this campaign.  

CCDS urges the delegates to the Twenty–Seventh (27) Convention of the AFL-CIO to support a Southern Strategy that will include a long-term commitment and investment in organizing the South as one of the AFL-CIO’s top priorities; and

CCDS also urges all international unions, civil rights organizations, environmental organizations, women’s organizations, and community organizations to adopt the same long-term commitment and investment necessary to sustain a strong and viable workers movement in the Southern Region of the United States.