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Alabama’s only union talk show, podcast sees surge amid national labor movement

TVLR has multiple events planned coming soon including their first live event Sept. 17 in Huntsville. 

The Valley Labor Report

Amid a summer of ongoing labor struggles across the country Alabama’s only union talk radio show and podcast, The Valley Labor Report, has seen an increase in views and interaction. 

The Valley Labor Report (TVLR) is co-hosted by Jacob Morrison and Adam Keller. Keller is a union stagehand with the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 900 and a union activist. Morrison serves as Assistant Vice President of his local union union the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) 1858 and is the Secretary-Treasurer of the North Alabama Area Labor Council.

In a press release, TVLR, mentioned the striking actors and writers in Hollywood as well as UPS workers on the verge of striking as major influences driving working-class people to their programming. While Morrison and Keller are excited about the new viewership they say it’s because they’re happy to see more people interested in issues facing the working class. 

“It’s never been about us,” Morrison said. “It’s why we started the show. It’s for the working class and to see the energy across the country among the working class is really great. And we just could not be more excited by it.”

On Tuesday, the Teamsters and UPS reached a tentative agreement to avoid a strike on August 1. While the agreement still has to be voted on by the workers Morrison said if passed that agreement would give some workers in Alabama a $6 an hour raise. 

Part-time workers will get a raise to at least $21 an hour and full-time drivers will get a raise to $49 an hour. 

“That is the power of unions,” Morrison said.

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Alabama is also a right-to-work state. Right-to-work laws effectively state that employees can not be forced to join or pay into a labor union. However, many detractors argue that right-to-work laws are meant to decrease worker power and labor organizing. 

According to the AFL-CIO, they describe right-to-work laws as, “the name for a policy designed to take away rights from working people.”

APR asked Keller and Morrison about the significance of the increased interest in labor activity in Alabama given it is a right-to-work-state. Keller said it demonstrates an appetite that working people are committed to making their lives better. 

“Yeah, we have a long history of oppression of unions and union activity in the state by the bosses and the politicians,” Keller said. “We also have a long, rich history of labor struggle, and labor organizing. There is an appetite among working people to make our lives better. And the best way to do that is to take matters into our own hands and come together as a union and as a movement and build power in the workplace, which hopefully we can translate into the community more broadly.”

Morrison added that it is encouraging to see people interacting with their platform given the attacks against working people in the state. 

“There’s a constant and unrelenting ideological assault on working people in our state, in Alabama, telling us that we have to accept whatever the boss says we deserve,” Morrison said. “That we ought not have any agency over our working conditions. And it is immoral and improper and uncouth to try to do these things to try to make our lives better. And interest in our program is a counter to that because our counter is reality…You deserve more in almost every instance than your boss thinks you do. And the only way to get it is to demand it.” 

TVLR has multiple events planned coming soon including their first live event Sept. 17 in Huntsville. 

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“Whether it is through old-school radio, online content, t-shirts, live events, or other ideas, we are committed unionists trying to engage diverse working-class audiences about the power of solidarity and collective organization,” Keller said.

Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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