Presenter Information

Hannah SmithFollow

Document Type

Panel Presentation

Keywords

unions, Appalachia, labor

Biography

Hannah Smith is from Kenova, West Virginia and is working towards her B.S. in Biochemistry as well as her B.A. in Anthropology with a minor in Classical Latin from Marshall. Hannah presented a paper about growing up in West Virginia at the West Virginia Young Writers' Convention and also a paper on the local history and culture of Huntington, WV at the Southern Anthropological Society’s 51st Annual Conference. Her love for the Lord and the mountain state continually influences her research and her adventures.

Major

Anthropology and Biochemistry

Advisor for this project

Dr. Brian A. Hoey

Start Date

19-4-2018 9:15 AM

End Date

19-4-2018 10:30 AM

Abstract

As industrialization brought new jobs to major cities and coal mining to Appalachia in the late 17th century, laborers in the steel and coal industries worked sixteen or more hours a day in terrible conditions. These workers formed labor unions to ensure management provided fair wages, hours, and working conditions. From the mistreated coalminers’ violent fight for a union in Appalachia during the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain to the Wildcat strikes of the 1950s, solidarity in unions has been a significant focal point in the history of Appalachia. Therefore, it is important to interpret if a union continues to fulfill its original purpose of granting a voice and solidarity to workers in a modern, specific Appalachian local. Many anthropologists, journalists, and others with general interest in unions continue to study the presence and influence of labor unions in Appalachia, but there are limited management perspectives regarding unions in the anthropological literature. Therefore, I investigate how a union affects relationships between union members and management in post-industrial Appalachia by conducting ethnographic research with employees, both union and non-union, within a factory in southern West Virginia with a United Steelworkers’ Union. Through interviews, observation, and examination of local literature, I establish the influence of this specific union on the fight for workers’ rights, social relationships, and collective action in the local Appalachian workplace and community during the 21st century.

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Apr 19th, 9:15 AM Apr 19th, 10:30 AM

Socialization and Solidarity in Workers' Unions of the 21st Century Appalachia

As industrialization brought new jobs to major cities and coal mining to Appalachia in the late 17th century, laborers in the steel and coal industries worked sixteen or more hours a day in terrible conditions. These workers formed labor unions to ensure management provided fair wages, hours, and working conditions. From the mistreated coalminers’ violent fight for a union in Appalachia during the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain to the Wildcat strikes of the 1950s, solidarity in unions has been a significant focal point in the history of Appalachia. Therefore, it is important to interpret if a union continues to fulfill its original purpose of granting a voice and solidarity to workers in a modern, specific Appalachian local. Many anthropologists, journalists, and others with general interest in unions continue to study the presence and influence of labor unions in Appalachia, but there are limited management perspectives regarding unions in the anthropological literature. Therefore, I investigate how a union affects relationships between union members and management in post-industrial Appalachia by conducting ethnographic research with employees, both union and non-union, within a factory in southern West Virginia with a United Steelworkers’ Union. Through interviews, observation, and examination of local literature, I establish the influence of this specific union on the fight for workers’ rights, social relationships, and collective action in the local Appalachian workplace and community during the 21st century.