Professor to Release Report on Impact of Manufacturing
"Are Good Jobs Possible in the Deep South?"
In a virtual press conference scheduled at 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 10, the Alabama Coalition for Community Benefits will unveil and then discuss a new report from researchers at Alabama A&M University. Dr. Emily Erickson’s report—“Are Good Jobs Possible in the Deep South?”—explores the impact of the expansion of the manufacturing industry in Alabama on workers and their communities. Erickson is an assistant professor in AAMU’s Department of Community and Regional Planning.
Major corporations have increasingly moved to the South in recent decades in chase of government tax incentives, laxer labor laws, and pro-business policies. Erickson’s report used surveys from residents in Anniston, Ala., and Calhoun County, and workers at four major manufacturing plants in Anniston, to gauge workers’ and residents’ experiences as the industry has expanded.
The brief press conference will also provide insight from AAMU alumna Erica Iheme, Southern program director, Jobs to Move America; Charles Groom, community organizer, Jobs to Move America; Scott Douglas, executive director, Greater Birmingham Ministries; and Joshua Brewer, organizer of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
Among the findings of the report: (1) Workers reported earning below a living wage, unpredictable schedules and forced overtime, unsafe working conditions, racial and gender discrimination, and fear of retaliation for speaking up; (2) Black workers were disproportionately impacted by these issues; community residents, especially Black residents, also expressed a dim outlook on economic and job opportunities in their communities in general; and (3) Not a single Black respondent agreed that people in Anniston “have enough money to get by.” Just 14% of white respondents agreed.