Interchange: In This Issue

Interchange: In This Issue

By Betty Norwood Chaney

Vol. 1, No. 9, 1979, pp. 2

This issue of Southern Changes is devoted primarily to the plight facing the workers of the South. We dedicate it to A. Phillip Randolph who died May 16 at the age of 90. Not only did he give 70 years of his life to the labor movement, he is also called the father of the civil rights revolution. Inhis birthday mesage to America on April 15, presented in “Soapbox,” he lauds the role of trade unions: “It is the trade union movment that has fought to preserve the minimum wage, to keep the CETA jobs programs in tact. And it is the trade union movement that has mounted a major effort to organize low-paid and exploited workers throughout the South.”

In this issue, we carry two in-depth articles about the struggles of workers trying to organize in the South and the obstacles they encounter.

Tony Dunbar in “The Old South Triumphs at Duke” relates the efforts of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)union to organize wage workers at Duke University. Duke, a cener of learning, erected upon the lofty principles “to develop a Christian love of freedom and truth” and “to promote a sincere spirit of tolerance,” responded by hiring an anti-union consulting firm. These “Chicago union busters” as AFSCME called them, launches the kind of campaign against AFSCME and Duke laborers that makes Dunbar conclude that the “New South so ably represented at Duke University is not really much different from the old.”

The second piece, Phil Wilayto, a member of the Center for United Labor Action, offers a vivid, heartrending account of the Steelworkers strike that brought silence to the yards of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company for 11 weeks this past winter as workers fought to win recognition for their union. Although unsuccessful this tim in their attempt to establish a union, the attitude of the workers following the strike is “We aren’t broken. We’re regrouping, we’ll be back and we’ll get our union.”

Probably the most important affermative action case since Bakke is the United Steelworkers of America v. Brian F. Weber, known familiarly as Weber. It could affect all voluntary affirmative action for racial minorities in the nation’s work force. In our third piece onlabor concerns, Laughlin McDonald, Southern director of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, details for us the factors involved in the Weber case. He determines that ultimately it is voluntary compliance that will eliminate the need for state and federal enforcement agencies.

Our Action Patterns department this issue outlines “How to File Complaints and Civil Suits Against Job Discrimination,” and the SRC Publications section lists materials available from the Council that relate to affirmative action and the employment of Blacks and women.

In addition, this issue carries an assessment of the 1979 legilative session of the Georgia General Assembly. Look for more analyses of this nature in Southern Changes as we enter our second year of publishing in September.

In closing, along with A. Phillip Randolph, we encourage you to take an active interest in the struggles of the Southern workers. We look upon the plight of the low-paid and often exploited laborer in the South as being one of the most important issues facing us today. As Randolph implores in his parting remarks, “Please, join the good fight.”