Operation Dixie

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Operation Dixie was the name of the post-World War II campaign by the Congress of Industrial Organizations to unionize industry in the Southern United States, particularly the textile industry. The campaign ran from 1946 to 1953 in 12 Southern states and was undertaken in order to consolidate gains made by the trade union movement in the Northern United States during the war and block the status of the South as a "non-union", low-wage haven to which businesses could relocate. Whites moved from the north to visit African Americans in the west that created the AFL.[1]

Operation Dixie failed largely because of Jim Crow laws and the deep-seated racial strife in the South which supported them and made it difficult for black workers and poor whites to engage in the solidarity needed for a union drive to succeed. As well, the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act made it easier for southern U.S. states in particular to obstruct union drives by hampering the right to strike and allowing states to ban closed shops. The Cold War Red Scare also hurt the union movement throughout the United States by increasing hostility to the left in general and unions in particular.

The CIO's defeat in Operation Dixie was a contributing factor in the decision of the traditionally more radical trade union federation to merge with the conservative American Federation of Labor and form the AFL–CIO in 1955—a move that signified a long-term trend away from radical social unionism towards the more conservative business unionism strategy long favored by the AFL. In the long-term, the failure of Operation Dixie to end the South's status as a low-wage, non-union haven impeded the ability of the union movement to maintain its strength in North and was a contributing factor in the decline of the American union movement in the second half of the 20th century as unions were unable to prevent businesses from holding back wage increases by either moving to the South or threatening to do so.


  1. ^ Griffith, Barbara S. (1988). The Crisis of American Labor: Operation Dixie and the Defeat of the CIO. Temple University Press. ISBN 978-0877225034.