The Song of the South generally sounds the same from upper management to crafts, especially when it comes to a preference for open shop and to opinions on the economy. It is conservative all the way.

"When Mr. Kerry said in a speech to the AFL-CIO that he would overturn Bush’s ban on project labor agreements, it hit merit shop contractors in the face,’’ says Jeff Masters, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors’ Alabama chapter, Birmingham.

Many nonunion workers blame today’s economic troubles on Democrats and look toward the GOP to turn things around. "From my perspective, the Republicans have a good basis for success with the economy, but it won’t come easily," says Rocky Sheppard, a superintendent for BE&K Inc., Birmingham. "It won’t cure itself overnight. It took years for Reagan to get his policies put in place and then to see results."


Presidential Race Has Unions Flexing Their Muscles

Construction Groups Woo Members to Make Every Vote Count
The Heat Is On for the Heart of Florida
Illinois Workers Want Lagging Public-Works Projects Bolstered
Unions See Iraq, Health Care and Jobs as the Main Issues
Industry Texans Support Native Son But Some Go To Dems
Ohio Workers See Power in Numbers
Nevada Building Trades Increase Voter Registration, Push Kerry
New York Workers Say They Have Had Enough Of Bush

But some issues override all others. "The biggest heartburn I’ve got is the deal in Iraq. I’m still waiting for the smoking gun,’’ says Sheppard. "I know people who have had family members wounded. That adds a personal side to it."

It is time to bring the troops home, says Gwen Nobel, a Mississippian who is a scheduler for a BE&K job in Kentucky. "Look at the lives lost. We may be helping them rebuild their country, but there is plenty to be done here in the states," she says. Nobel is undecided on how she will vote. "Bush has done some good stuff, but there is a cloud over the war. I’m processing that now,’’ she says.

But some Southerners don’t like Kerry or Bush. "I don’t think either one of them will do a good job,’’ says Larry Klutz, an electrical superintendent who lives in Georgia. "Jobs are going overseas, gasoline increases are eating up annual raises and our immigration laws need tightening up,’’ he says. He thinks special interest groups control politicians and he wonders if there will be anything left in the Social Security fund when he retires.