Preface to 'Labor Unions in the Ozarks'

From Neal Moore's Labor Unions in the Ozarks:

The absence of any recorded history of trade unions in the Ozarks has resulted in two misconceptions about the history of industry in this region; and about the nature and attitudes of the Ozark working people. The first error of thought is that there have been very few unions in the Ozarks--some go so far as to say that there are no unions in the Ozarks. The second misconception is that, by nature, Ozark workers are opposed to union organization. Whatever opinions are expressed, they must be considered, of course, as comparative statements. How many unions would be defined as "few unions"? How would we define a group of workers as being "opposed to unions"? A quick look at the history of trade unions in the Ozarks, however, reveals that there has been a long and vibrant trade union history in the Ozarks; and that many of the workers in the Ozarks not only have been strong supporters of the trade union movement, but out of their ranks has come important leadership for the state and national trade union movement. In addition, a perusal of this history indicates that, despite a long history of active opposition to the unionization of Ozark workers, there have been repeated occasions when public officials and the citizenry in general have been sympathetic toward and supportive of local trade union members in their efforts to win specific trade union objectives.

In the absence of any published general history of those Ozark workers who chose union organization as a way of handling their worker-management relationships, a collection has been made here of a number of articles relating to the general field of Ozark labor history. While not a complete story, it is hoped one can find in the following pages a greater awareness of the important events in Ozark labor history and an appreciation of those working people of the Ozarks who, through their union organizations, have risen to positions of leadership in the state and national trade union movement. It is hoped also that the events related here will provide a new perspective that will add to the reader's understanding and appreciation of the whole history of the Ozarks.

The collection of articles in the following pages were written, generally, in the 1980s. With a few exceptions these articles consist of three papers delivered at the Missouri and Mid-America Conferences on History, and of a number of articles on various subjects published in The Union Labor Record. Since the story of trade unions in the Ozarks, as presented here, is incomplete, this writer hopes that the events described will serve to encourage those interested in the history and culture of the working people of the Ozarks to pursue further research into the many areas of activities that have not been mentioned; and that such study would enlarge the details and add to the interpretation of those already mentioned.

Neal Moore
Springfield, Missouri
September 1990