Under our current system of labor laws, U.S. workers face tremendous challenges to organizing and engaging in collective bargaining with employers – but in no other region has it been more difficult to unionize workers than in the South. In 2022, union membership rates in every state in the South fell below the national average, which hit a record low of 10.1 percent. Workers in the South have faced unique, historically entrenched challenges to union organizing – from the exclusion of agricultural and domestic workers from the National Labor Relations Act that intentionally left many Black Southern workers outside the purview of the law to the impact of right-to-work laws on limiting union resources and bargaining power across the region.
In spite of these challenges, Southern workers have been building coalitions, getting involved in politics, and organizing to advance racial and economic justice in their communities. The Union of Southern Service Workers (USSW) has been working to organize the “unorganizable” in mobilizing workers across the retail, food service, and care industries. Built upon years of organizing efforts by Raise Up and Fight for $15 and a Union in the region, USSW is leading a movement rooted in community action and antiracism to shift the balance of power in the South, the impact of which will fundamentally shape the future of organized labor in this country.
Join us for a panel discussion on Thursday, November 2nd with USSW and State Rep. Angie Nixon of the Florida House of Representatives, District 13 to hear their perspectives on building a cross-sector movement, navigating the challenges of labor law preemption, and what policymakers, advocates, and others can do to help empower Southern workers in this moment.
Co-sponsored with LEAP; reception to follow.