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Life and Labor in the New New South$
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Robert Zieger

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780813037950

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813037950.001.0001

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John McClellan, the Teamsters, and Biracial Labor Politics in Arkansas, 1947–1959

John McClellan, the Teamsters, and Biracial Labor Politics in Arkansas, 1947–1959

(p.45) 2 John McClellan, the Teamsters, and Biracial Labor Politics in Arkansas, 1947–1959
Life and Labor in the New New South

Michael Pierce

University Press of Florida

The John McClellan-led Senate investigations into Teamster corruption were motivated, in part, by the senator's need to secure his political base in Arkansas. In the mid-1950s, the state's labor movement, led by Teamster official Odell Smith and former governor Sidney McMath, was putting together working-class blacks and whites into an effective political coalition. Dedicated to the expansion of public power and public education, the elimination of the poll tax, reform of the state's regressive tax code, and revocation of Arkansas's “right-to-work” amendment, the labor-led biracial coalition threatened the state's conservative elite as well as McClellan's political organization. The Senate investigations-by prompting the expulsion of the Teamsters from the AFL-CIO-damaged Arkansas's labor-led biracial coalition, making the state safer for conservative politicians like McClellan.

Keywords:   Teamsters, Arkansas AFL-CIO, John McClellan, Sidney McMath, Odell Smith, poll tax, biracial politics, right-to-work

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