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"O" is for Organized Labor

South Carolina from A to Z logo

"O" is for Organized Labor. Organized labor in South Carolina has colonial roots. As early as 1742 white shipwrights in Charleston protested allegedly unfair competition from slave labor. In 1834 Charleston typographers formed the first union in the state. Black longshoremen organized in 1867, beginning the longest living union in the state. The Knights of Labor had a transitory following in the 1880s. Craft unions appeared about the same time. Columbia’s 1891Labor Day parade, a large two-day celebration indicated the perseverance of craft unions. The organization of the state’s textile workers by the UTW led to the General Strike of 1934 and the collapse of unions in textile industry. In 1954 South Carolina passed a “right to work” law and state officials and business leaders market it as a state where unions and organized labor are not welcome.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar receivedhisA.B.degreefromDavidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.