Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-568f69f84b-cgcw8 Total loading time: 0.367 Render date: 2021-09-20T06:06:23.492Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Religion, Human Relations, and Union Avoidance in the 1950s: The Electrical Industry's Southern Strategy and Its Limits

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2015

Elizabeth Fones-Wolf
Affiliation:
History Department, PO Box 6303, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506-6303. E-mail: efwolf@wvu.edu.
Ken Fones-Wolf
Affiliation:
History Department, PO Box 6303, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506-6303. E-mail: kfoneswo@wvu.edu.

Abstract

Historians have become increasingly aware of how religion dovetailed with businessmen's goals of promoting free-enterprise ideologies and creating an anti-statist and anti-union political culture. But business expected more from religion; many employers believed that emphasizing spirituality could help them win community support and worker loyalty and avoid unions. When the electrical manufacturing industry began to move South after World War II, key employers had already witnessed the role that religion played in helping defeat the CIO's Southern Organizing Campaign. However, they balked at borrowing the overtly racist and reactionary evangelicalism that southern employers had effectively used. Instead, they looked for a more moderate religious model that would blend with their growing interest in human relations. They found it in Reverend George Heaton, an ordained Southern Baptist minister who had begun counseling employers during the 1930s. Heaton emphasized the sacred imperative driving good human relations and rejected the “fetish” of collective bargaining that he believed robbed individual freedom and the personal relationships that created harmonious workplace communities. As GE, Westinghouse, Magnavox, and Singer moved to the South, they all hired Heaton to be “minister” to their employees. This strategy had its limits, however, as this article will demonstrate using case studies of organizing drives in Rome, Georgia, and Greeneville, Tennessee. Nevertheless, Heaton was an important and understudied bridge between earlier paternalistic uses of religion and more modern Christian human relations.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s) 2012. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Business History Conference. All rights reserved.

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Baritz, Loren. The Servants of Power: A History of the Use of Social Science in American Industry. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1960.Google Scholar
Brattain, Michelle. The Politics of Whiteness: Race, Workers, and Culture in the Modern South. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001.Google Scholar
Burgess, David S. Fighting for Socia! Justice: The Life Story of David Burgess. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2000.Google Scholar
Carlton, David C., and Coclanis, Peter. The South, the Nation, and the World. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2003.Google Scholar
Carpenter, Joel A. Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.Google Scholar
Churches and Church Membership in the United States. New York: National Council of Churches, 1951.Google Scholar
Cobb, James C. The Selling of the South: The Southern Crusade for Industrial Development, 1936–1980. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982.Google Scholar
Coles, Robert. Children of the Crisis, Volume II; Migrants, Sharecroppers, Mountaineers. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1971.Google Scholar
Davis, Keith. Human Relations in Business. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1957.Google Scholar
Dochuk, Darren. From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010.Google Scholar
Egerton, John. Speak Now against the Day: The Generation before the Civil Rights Movement in the South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.Google Scholar
Fones-Wolf, Elizabeth. Selling Free Enterprise: The Business Assault on Labor and Liberalism, 1945–1960. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.Google Scholar
Frederickson, Kari. The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South, 1932–1968. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.Google Scholar
Gellman, Erik S., and Roll, Jarod. The Gospel of the Working Class: Labor’s Southern Prophets in New Deal America. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011.Google Scholar
Glass, William R. Strangers in Zion: Fundamentalists in the South, 1900–1950. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2001.Google Scholar
Goldfield, Michael. The Color of Politics: Race and the Mainsprings of American Politics. New York: New Press, 1997.Google Scholar
Grammich, Clifford A. Jr., Local Baptists, Local Politics: Churches and Communities in the Middle and Uplands South. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1999.Google Scholar
Griffith, Barbara S. The Crisis of American Labor: Operation Dixie and the Defeat of the CIO. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988.Google Scholar
Hall, Jacqueline Dowd, Leloudis, James, Korstad, Robert, Murphy, Mary, Jones, Lu Ann, and Daly, Christopher B. Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987.Google Scholar
Hangen, Tona. Redeeming the Dial: Radio, Religion, and Popular Culture in America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.Google Scholar
Harris, Howell John. The Right to Manage: Industrial Relations Policies of Business in the 1940s. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982.Google Scholar
Jacoby, Sanford M. Modern Manors: Welfare Capitalism since the New Deal. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997.Google Scholar
Jones, Loyal. Faith and Meaning in the Southern Uplands. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999.Google Scholar
Kaufman, Bruce E. The Origins and Evolution of the Field of Industrial Relations in the United States. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press, 1993.Google Scholar
Kennedy, Stetson. Southern Exposure. New York: Doubleday, 1946.Google Scholar
Key, V.O. Jr., Southern Politics in State and Nation. New York: Knopf, 1949.Google Scholar
Korstad, Robert Rogers. Civil Rights Unionism: Tobacco Workers and the Struggle for Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth Century South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.Google Scholar
Lee, Tom. The Tennessee-Virginia Tri-Cities: Urbanization in Appalachia, 1900–1950. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2005.Google Scholar
Lorence, James J. A Hard Journey: The Life of Don West. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007.Google Scholar
McCloud, Sean. Divine Hierarchies: Class in American Religion and Religious Studies. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.Google Scholar
Mason, Lucy Randolph. To Win These Rights: A Personal Story of the CIO in the South. New York: Harper & Bros, 1952.Google Scholar
Minchin, Timothy J. Fighting against the Odds: A History of Southern Labor Since World War II. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005.Google Scholar
Minchin, Timothy J. What Do We Need a Union For?: The TWUA in the South, 1945–1955. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.Google Scholar
Moreton, Bethany. To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009.Google Scholar
Phillips-Fein, Kimberly. Invisible Hands: The Businessmen’s Crusade against the New Deal. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010.Google Scholar
Pope, Liston. Millhands and Preachers: A Study of Gastonia. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1965.Google Scholar
Schatz, Ronald. The Electrical Workers: A History of Labor at General Electric and Westinghouse, 1923–60. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983.Google Scholar
Schulman, Bruce J. From Cotton Belt to Sun Belt: Federal Policy, Economic Development, and the Transformation of the South, 1938–1980. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.Google Scholar
Shefferman, Nathan, and Kramer, Dale. The Man in the Middle. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1961.Google Scholar
Smith, Robert Michael. From Blackjacks to Briefcases: A History of Commercialized Strikebreaking and Unionbusting in the United States. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2003.Google Scholar
Tullos, Allen. Habits of Industry: White Culture and the Transformation of the Carolina Piedmont. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.Google Scholar
Zieger, Robert. The CIO, 1935–1955. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.Google Scholar
Zieger, Robert, and Gall, Gilbert J. American Workers, American Unions. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.Google Scholar
Callahan, Richard J. Jr., Lofton, Kathryn, and Seales, Chad E. “Allegories of Progress: Industrial Religion in the United States.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 78 (March 2010): 139.Google Scholar
Carrier, Ronald E., and Schriver, William. “Plant Location Studies: An Appraisal.” Southwestern Social Science Quarterly 47 (September 1966): 136–40.Google Scholar
Cook, Claire M. “The Industrial Chaplains.” Christian Century (August 31, 1955): 994.Google Scholar
Dailey, Jane. “Sex, Segregation, and the Sacred after Brown,” Journal of American History 91 (June 2004): 119–45.Google Scholar
Delton, Jennifer. “Before the EEOC: How Management Integrated the Workplace,” Business History Review 81 (Summer 2007): 269–95.Google Scholar
Flynt, Wayne. “Religion for the Blues: Evangelicalism, Poor Whites, and the Great Depression.” Journal of Southern History 71 (February 2005): 338.Google Scholar
Fones-Wolf, Elizabeth, and Fones-Wolf, KenSanctifying the Southern Organizing Campaign: Protestant Activists in the CIO’s Operation Dixie.” Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas 6 (Spring 2009): 532.Google Scholar
Heaton, George D. “Christian Principles in Industrial Relations.” Baptist Record (November 1, 1944): 6.Google Scholar
Hirsch, Julius. “America’s 3rd Migration.” Nation’s Business 39 (March 1953): 84–5.Google Scholar
Industry’s Big Gains in South: Firm Foothold for New Factories.” U.S. News and World Report (July 5, 1946): 28–9.Google Scholar
Korstad, Robert, and Lichtenstein, Nelson. “Opportunities Found and Lost: Labor, Radicals, and the Early Civil Rights Movement.” Journal of American History 75 (Fall 1988): 786811.Google Scholar
Labor Chaplains Renew an Old Ministry.” Christian Advocate (April 1, 1954): 14.Google Scholar
MacNabb, George M. “The South Bets on Industry.” American Mercury (January 1957): 1420.Google Scholar
Operation Dixie Slows Up.” Business Week (October 25, 1947): 1920.Google Scholar
Welcome Labor Unions!Christian Frontiers (November 1946): 277–8.Google Scholar
Woodbury, Clarence. “Religion in Industry: ‘Not Only to Make a Living … But a Life’.” Nation’s Business (June 1954): 74.Google Scholar
Employee Relations News Letter: For Circulation among General Electric Management, May 1, 1953.Google Scholar
Greeneville Sun, 1952–1955.Google Scholar
IUE-CIO TeleViewer (Greenville), 1954.Google Scholar
Raleigh News and Observer, August 26, 1954.Google Scholar
Rome GE IUE-CIO News, 1954–1955.Google Scholar
Rome News-Tribune, 1952–1955.Google Scholar
Wall Street Journal, January 19, 1955.Google Scholar
AFL-CIO Region 8 Records, Southern Labor Archives, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia.Google Scholar
David, S. Burgess Papers, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan.Google Scholar
George, D. Heaton Papers, Special Collections Department, Auburn University Libraries, Auburn, Alabama.Google Scholar
International Union of Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers Records, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey Google Scholar
President’s Office Records (PO).Google Scholar
Publicity Department Records (PD). Google Scholar
Secretary-Treasurer’s Office Records (ST).Google Scholar
John Ramsay Papers, Southern Labor Archives, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia.Google Scholar
Operation Dixie Papers, microfilm, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.Google Scholar
U.S. Bureau of the Census. County and City Data Book, 1956. Washington, DC: GPO, 1957.Google Scholar
U.S. Census Bureau. County and City Data Book. Washington, DC: GPO, 1949.Google Scholar
Smith, Francis K. “The Industrial Chaplain-His Employee and Community Relations Significance.” MS thesis, Boston University, 1946.Google Scholar
Polk’s Rome City Directory 1952. Richmond: R.L. Polk & Co., 1952.Google Scholar
Polk’s Rome City Directory 1957. Richmond: R.L. Polk & Co., 1957.Google Scholar
Address of Dr. George D. Heaton Before the Thirty-Eighth Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Cotton Manufacturers Association, Inc. n.p., North Carolina Cotton Manufacturers Association, 1944, pamphlet in the Heaton Papers.Google Scholar
Beyond Our Walls: A Plan for Deserving and Getting the Understanding and Support of the Community. n.p.: General Electric, 1963, pamphlet in the Baker Library, Harvard University.Google Scholar
Love Thy Neighbor. Atlanta: CIO Organizing Committee, n.d., pamphlet in IUE Records.Google Scholar
Program for Clergy. n.p.: General Electric, n.d., pamphlet; in box 1572, Ramsay Papers.Google Scholar
The Church and the CIO Together. Atlanta: CIO Organizing Committee, n.d., pamphlet in IUE Records.Google Scholar
The Plant Community Relations Program. New York: General Electric, 1952, pamphlet in the Baker Library, Harvard University.Google Scholar
With the Help of Our Churches. n.p.: General Electric, ca. 1953, pamphlet; in box 1572, Ramsay Papers.Google Scholar
Crown Mills Oral History Project, University Libraries Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia. Lucille Hall, interview with Douglas Flamming, June 22, 1985.Google Scholar
Religion and Culture Project, Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Baylor University, Waco, Texas. Oral Memoir of Warren Tyree Carr, April 18, 1985.Google Scholar
Southern Oral History Project, Southern Historical Collections, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Burgess, David S. interview with Hall, Jacquelyn and Finger, Bill, September 25, 1974. Faucette, Ethel M. interview with Tullos, Allen, November 16, 1978, January 4, 1979. Elmore, George R. interview with Glass, Brent, March 11, 1976.Google Scholar

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Religion, Human Relations, and Union Avoidance in the 1950s: The Electrical Industry's Southern Strategy and Its Limits
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Religion, Human Relations, and Union Avoidance in the 1950s: The Electrical Industry's Southern Strategy and Its Limits
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Religion, Human Relations, and Union Avoidance in the 1950s: The Electrical Industry's Southern Strategy and Its Limits
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *