John McClellan, the Teamsters, and Biracial Labor Politics in Arkansas, 1947–1959

Michael Pierce

in Life and Labor in the New New South

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780813037950
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813043111 | DOI:
John McClellan, the Teamsters, and Biracial Labor Politics in Arkansas, 1947–1959

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The John McClellan-led Senate investigations into Teamster corruption were motivated, in part, by the senator's need to secure his political base in Arkansas. In the mid-1950s, the state's labor movement, led by Teamster official Odell Smith and former governor Sidney McMath, was putting together working-class blacks and whites into an effective political coalition. Dedicated to the expansion of public power and public education, the elimination of the poll tax, reform of the state's regressive tax code, and revocation of Arkansas's “right-to-work” amendment, the labor-led biracial coalition threatened the state's conservative elite as well as McClellan's political organization. The Senate investigations-by prompting the expulsion of the Teamsters from the AFL-CIO-damaged Arkansas's labor-led biracial coalition, making the state safer for conservative politicians like McClellan.

Keywords: Teamsters; Arkansas AFL-CIO; John McClellan; Sidney McMath; Odell Smith; poll tax; biracial politics; right-to-work

Chapter.  14601 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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