My Head’s Turning White, My Neck’s Always Been Red, My Collar’s Still Blue/Americas Unions!

The Death of the American Union!

One must ask themselves, how does Right to Work effect me? What does it mean to be in a union?

As my readers no doubt know, I am a small coal town boy. The mines were the lifeblood of mine and many other Appalachian communities. Things were not always sunshine and roses for the Appalachian coal miner, however.

From 1912-1921 the vast majority of Appalachian miners rented from, traded with, and bought goods from the mine companies in which they worked. The mine companies would build up mining towns, paying slave wages to workers for dangerous work in subhuman conditions. To add insult to injury, the mining companies would pay the employees with company money. These sums of money were only redeemable in a company store. The proprietor of these stores would set prices based on what the company told them and extend credit to the patrons, who could not afford the items they needed to survive. In effect, creating slave labor.

As the old song goes, “I owe my soul to the company store.”

The miners rose up, they demanded the right to trade where they wanted as well as safe work conditions and a survivable wage. Instead, the companies hired Baldwin-Felts Agents to keep the miners working and and force miners to adhere to company rules.

The miners went to WAR!

On May 19, 1920, a shootout in Matewan, West Virginia, between agents of the Baldwin-Felts and local miners, who later joined the United Mine Workers of America, sparked what became known as the Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest insurrection in the United States since the American Civil War.

During this time, the miners would tie red bandannas around their necks in order to identify each other in the heat of the bloody conflict. This is where the term “Red Neck” is derived from. In the end, the miners calmed victory. They were granted the rights to unionize and  trade and live where they chose.

Why is this story so important?

This is just one example of the people of our country literally giving their lives so that we have the right to collective bargaining and the building of unions.

For years, the people of America have been fed the lie that they don’t need unions. They have been told that their companies will take care of them and there is no need for collective bargaining. This is a falsity that has been handed down for a generation now. My state, following the trend of many other republican controlled states, has recently passed Right to Work laws. These laws bust up unions.

The fact is, you as an employee to a large corporation, are a number. Your are a piece of equipment. Without fellow employees coming together for the entire group and demanding that you are treated fair, what reason would a corporation have to choose your interests over it’s own profit?

Answer: NONE

Don’t be fooled, the collective bargaining of the group is what keep’s American workers from becoming slave labor.

What do you think?


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Father of four that loves to consider the advancement of human society and our socioeconomic path.
About Christopher Allen 16 Articles
Father of four that loves to consider the advancement of human society and our socioeconomic path.