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Interview with Herb Mabry, April 14, 2008

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:08 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: Hello, I'm Bob Short.

Segment Synopsis: Bob Short introduces Herb Mabry.

00:00:46 - Background / Career Trajectory

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Partial Transcript: You grew up in the suburban Atlanta back when Roswell and Sandy Springs was out in the country.

Segment Synopsis: Mabry remembers growing up in Sandy Springs, Georgia at a time when it was rural, and comments on the urbanization that has occurred in the area over years. He discusses how he became interested in labor law, attending Woodrow Wilson College of Law, and being part of the Carpenters' local union. Mabry discusses his career trajectory, which include, working at Sears Roebuck, as secretary of the AFL-CIO, and running for state representative.

Keywords: AFL-CIO; Sandy Springs, Georgia; Sears Roebuck; Woodrow Wilson College of Law; labor union; organized labor; state politics; urbanization

00:08:06 - Relationship to black community

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Partial Transcript: I knew that we could not survive if we did not allow the blacks and white to go to school together...

Segment Synopsis: Mabry discusses his relationship to the black community in Atlanta and his involvement on the board of directors at the King Center. He talks about his support of Leroy Johnson in the campaign for state Senate. Mabry also briefly comments on integration in labor.

Keywords: Leroy Johnson; Martin Luther King, Jr. Center; black community; integration; race relations

00:11:53 - Zell Miller / Democratic National Committee

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Partial Transcript: A very, very close friend of Zell Miller.

Segment Synopsis: Mabry talks about his relationship to politician Zell Miller. He also discusses serving as a delegate to the Democratic National Committee and his influence in bringing the Democratic National Convention to Georgia in 1998.

Keywords: Democratic National Committee; Democratic National Convention; Zell Miller

00:19:51 - The Labor issue in politics

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Partial Transcript: Well, Herb, let's play out a little scene here.

Segment Synopsis: Mabry discusses the tension between organized labor and the Right-to-Work law. He discusses the AFL-CIO's support of political candidates in elections, and describes the types of expectations they have of candidates. Mabry discusses the need for funding for training programs for workers, and generally characterizes the labor movement in Georgia.

Keywords: Right to Work law; labor unions; political support; strikes; training programs

00:25:05 - Process of endorsing candidates

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Partial Transcript: Getting back to our little play here. Suppose that the organized labor in Georgia decided to support my candidacy for Governor of Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Mabry describes the process of endorsing political candidates, which involves a collective committee decision. He talks about the COPE (Committee on Political Education) Fund that appropriates money for campaign purposes. Mabry also discusses the division of authority between the state versus national labor union organizations.

Keywords: COPE Fund; campaign fundraising; monetary appropriation; political endorsement; union hierarchy

00:30:14 - Issues affecting organized labor

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Partial Transcript: What are some of the ones [issues] that affect organized labor?

Segment Synopsis: Mabry discusses the importance of the issue of medical coverage for employees. He comments on the trend of undocumented immigrant labor and how it relates to organized labor unions. Mabry also reflects on the effects of globalization trends such as the NAFTA and outsourcing of jobs.

Keywords: NAFTA; construction workers; free trade; globalization; immigrant labor; medical coverage; outsourcing; political campaign

00:37:55 - Relationships with Georgia governors

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Partial Transcript: Well, let's get back to Georgia politics.

Segment Synopsis: Mabry talks about the economic and educational improvements that Carl Sanders made as governor of Georgia. He also talks about Lester Maddox's term as governor, and describes his open-door relationships with governors throughout his career in labor organizing. Mabry also discusses his part in securing the national AFL-CIO's support of Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign.

Keywords: Carl Sanders; George Meany; Jimmy Carter; Lester Maddox; economic development; labor support

00:49:17 - Memorable moments in career

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Partial Transcript: Well looking back over your career in politics, what do you think was your best moment?

Segment Synopsis: Mabry reflects on his working relationships with a variety of state and national politicians and Jimmy Carter's defeat in his second-presidential election. Mabry also recounts witnessing the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan.

Keywords: Jimmy Carter; Ronald Reagan; assassination attempt

00:55:06 - Georgia labor leaders

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk for a minute about some other prominent labor leaders in the state of Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Mabry talks about notable leaders in the state labor unions, including Al Kara, Herb Butler, and Martha True. He comments on their personalities.

Keywords: Al Kara; Herb Butler; Martha True; United Auto Workers; minority representation

00:59:04 - Views on political involvement and work

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Partial Transcript: Herb, people seem to be disenchanted today with the state of politics in the United States.

Segment Synopsis: Mabry comments on the individualism and self-interest in present politics. He reflects on the future of the the King Center and the revitalization of the Georgia Democratic Party. He reflects on his role of balancing working relationships between people of different economic classes.

Keywords: Georgia Democratic Party; King Center; class relations; self-interest politics

01:11:46 - 1968 Democratic National Convention / Party switching in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Were you at the '68 Convention?

Segment Synopsis: Mabry and Short discusse the significance of the events of the 1968 Democratic National Convention. They talk about Julian Bond's opposition delegation representing minorities. Mabry also comments on the process of party switching in Georgia that began after the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Keywords: Julian Bond; Lester Maddox; party switching; race and minority representation

01:15:49 - Relations with state legislators, Georgia Department of Labor, and union supporters

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Partial Transcript: Who are your closest friends in the legislature?

Segment Synopsis: Mabry talks about maintaining effective working relationships with state and national legislators, and mentions the way that labor unions economically support pro-labor candidates. Mabry also describes his relationship to the Georgia Department of Labor and the receipt of federal funds for labor training programs. He reflects on the decline of union membership in recent years and the difficulty of building a platform for labor issues and securing voters' support of labor-endorsed candidates.

Keywords: AFL-CIO; Georgia Department of Labor; labor movement; labor platform; legislators; pro-labor; training programs; working relationship

01:24:10 - Outsourcing / Reflection on life's work

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Partial Transcript: Herb, one last question, what do you see down the road for the American economy that seems to be outsourcing?

Segment Synopsis: Mabry talks about the possible effect that outsourcing will have on workers in the U.S.He also reflects on his legacy of establishing the labor study program at Georgia State University.

Keywords: Georgia State University; economic recession; labor studies; outsourcing