Norma Rae and Labor Issues

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The movie Norma Rae is about a southern mill worker who helps revolutionize and unionize a small town. The conditions at the southern cotton textile factory were intolerable and management was abusive. In the summer of 1978, a union organizer from New York came to this small town and approached the employees at the cotton factory to start a union. The union organizer, the mill workers and the management of the factory had very different perspectives as to the ramifications of starting a union. PERSPECTIVE OF THE UNION ORGANIZER Warshovsky was a New York City operative who came to the cotton factory to help the employees organize a union. He knew from his experience that it was not going to be an easy task but he believed very…show more content…
The mill workers felt that they simply did not have any other options and feared the punitive steps management would take if they unionized. Indeed, this appeared to be the case. When several employees expressed a tentative interest in the union, management reduced their work days, and, consequently, their pay. The mill’s management used many other scare tactics to try and persuade employees to reject the union. Opinion turned when working conditions directly contributed to the death of an employee. This employee had not felt well and requested some time to rest. The supervisor rejected his request and the employee subsequently died at his workplace. Following this incident, which clearly demonstrated the poor condition of their employment, many employees began to express an interest in the union. Until that point the workers did not feel that they had a chance of making a difference. The lack of education and management intimidation had their desired effect until they realized that unionization was their only opportunity for a better work environment. They took their chances and worked hard to unionize. PERSPECTIVE OF MANAGEMENT The mill’s owners and managers had little impetus to change the way in which they had always conducted business and treated employees. With limited employment options in the area, the majority of the people who lived in the town were mill employees. This was
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