Is Mississippi on the Verge of a Union Movement?

mississippi.jpg[Cross-Posted on Workplace Prof Blog]

I do not jest. Consider that just last week the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson reported:

A vote to unionize the Johnson Controls plant in Madison County was unsuccessful.

“We were 34 votes short,” said Gary Casteel, United Auto Workers regional director.

The facility supplies seats and other components to Nissan. The United Auto Workers was seeking to represent the workers.

The final tally was 213 for unionizing and 145 opposed.

unionyes.jpgNow, I want to argue that 145 votes for unionization in the heart of the Deep South is nothing short of an amazing accomplishment and Southern workers are being to understand the benefits that come with unionization. Although there are currently over 100 local unions in Mississippi (again, not kidding), there is only one lawyer I know in the state that practices union-side labor law full-time (hello Roger Doolittle!).

But here I want to go back over fifty years of history and invoke the memory of the great Professor Bill Murphy, who recently passed away, who wrote in a prescient piece in the Mississippi Law Journal in 1954. I describe his idea in a recent tribute I penned to him in the same Journal:

In Bill’s article on “The ‘Right to Work’ ‘Statute,” “[he] wanted lawyers to understand how labor unions sought security, the arguments for and against such security measures, the origins of right-to-work laws, and the litigation that the laws had caused.” Murphy’s commentary on these laws was unusually astute and he proved prescient when he observed that “a cheap, docile labor supply” in the South would attract industry which would inevitably lead to the rise of unionism in the region. Indeed, in the last decade as Mississippi has been successful in luring the likes of Nissan, Toyota, and other large corporations, Bill’s prediction about the eventual increase in unionism in this state no larger appears far-fetched.

I hope where ever you are Bill, that you are smiling about these favorable developments.

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2 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    Interesting.

    Reading the title, I thought you were talking about an anti-Confederate movement for a second.

    Our state seems to be a little bit scrunched down in the map here, but stretched out on the Workplace Prof blog version. Trying to think of a joke about Yankees coming down and getting Mississippi all out of proportion, but I can’t quite make it work.

  2. In law school, a fellow student once talked in class about states that had laws preventing people from joining unions. At the break, I commented to her that I was aware of states that had laws that prohibited forced joining of a union but nothing like she had mentioned. Her reply:

    “Well, it’s the same thing, isn’t it?”

    as long as Mississippi remains a RTW state, it should be okay