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The New Economy and the Modern South$
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Michael Dennis

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813032917

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813032917.001.0001

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Wealth against Commonwealth

Wealth against Commonwealth

Southern Labor in the Era of Market Dominance

(p.94) Chapter 4 Wealth against Commonwealth
The New Economy and the Modern South

Michael Dennis

University Press of Florida

The last decade of the 20th century was critical for organized labor. In this decade, labor unions began to capture some of the cross-class, biracial, democratic character that had distinguished its most important achievements. Virginia and the South were at the junction of this struggle to redefine the labor movement in democratic and movement-oriented terms. As private interests promoted a political atmosphere hospitable to market fundamentalism, the South became a model for anti-unionism. The South defined the “right to work” philosophy that was gaining national credibility in the late 20th century. In the South, the movement for collective action ground against the ideology of self-interest and anti-government individualism. While Virginia's labor unions failed to generate widespread support, they fostered a debate that redefined the cultural and political terrain in the United States.

Keywords:   organized labor, market fundamentalism, Virginia, labor unions, anti-unionism, right to work, collective action

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