Department of Sociology
This paper describes two labor campaigns of recent Somali immigrants working in Tennessee. In the first case, Somali and Ethiopian taxi drivers who are independent contractors faced resistance to traditional unionization and instead create an independent, non-profit organization, the Nashville Metro Taxi Drivers Alliance (NMTDA). The NMTDA works to address workers concerns of poverty wages and poor employment conditions.
The second case covers Tyson poultry workers in rural Shelbyville and describes the complexity of RWDSU's effort to integrate immigrant workers' cultural practices into the collective bargaining agreement. After successfully gaining a paid Muslim religious holiday through collective bargaining, a high profile "nativist" public opposition interfered with the union's ability to implement the change.