Covering for the Bosses

Book ann: UP of Mississippi

Covering for the Bosses: Labor and the Southern Press By Joe Atkins
Foreword by Stanley Aronowitz
University Press of Mississippi
ISBN 978-1-934110-80-5, hardback, $45

Politicians, corporations, and media conspire to keep South a solid non-union region. Joseph B. Atkins's Covering for the Bosses: Labor and the Southern Press (University Press of Mississippi) uncovers the struggles of the working people of the South and the difficulties they faced whenever they tried to organize into unions, and the way the press treated them when they did. The strained relationships that this book describes have pitted the South's political, business, religious, and journalistic elite against Southern workers. The most glaring effect, Atkins says, has been to keep the South the least unionized part of the nation.
Atkins is a veteran journalist and firsthand observer of the labor movement and its treatment in the region's newspapers and other media.
In gathering materials for this book, Atkins crisscrossed the South, interviewing workers, managers, labor organizers, immigrants, activists, and journalists, researched original documentation at the Southern Labor Archives in Atlanta and elsewhere, and brought to the task thirty years of experience as a journalist and professor of journalism in the South.

The text focuses on the modern South that has evolved since World War II, tracing the fall of the once-dominant textile industry and into the region's emergence as the 'Sunbelt South.' The narrative then moves to recent transformation into 'Detroit South' with the arrival of foreign automakers from Japan, Germany, and South Korea. And finally Atkins explores the influx of millions of undocumented workers from Mexico and beyond who have complicated the traditional black-white dichotomy in the race-haunted South. In many ways, Covering for the Bosses is also a personal essay by a textile worker's son who grew up in North Carolina, worked on tobacco farms and in textile plants as a young man, and went on to cover as a reporter many of the developments described in this book. Atkins describes his approach to the subject as 'that of a trained observer and an eyewitness, rather than that of a labor historian or even a media scholar.' Joseph B. Atkins is a widely published journalist, professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi, and editor of The Mission: Journalism, Ethics, and the World. Stanley Aronowitz is distinguished professor of sociology and cultural studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author, most recently, of Against Schooling: For an Education That Matters; Left Turn: Forging a New Political Future; and The Knowledge Factory.

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Emily Hubbard
Marketing Assistant
University Press of Mississippi