NC Highway Sign Now Marks the CIO’s “Operation Dixie”

Historic organizing effort recognized

On Saturday, September 3, 2011, a new North Carolina Highway Historical Marker was unveiled in Rocky Mount for Operation Dixie. The Congress of Industrial Organizations launched Operation Dixie in 1946 in Rocky Mount, where black tobacco leaf house workers voted to form a union at the China American Tobacco Company on September 3, 1946.

NC State AFL-CIO President James Andrews joined Cora Baines Tann (pictured), 94, a former employee at China American Tobacco Company and founding FTA-CIO member, for the highway marker’s official unveiling on Franklin Street, across from the Imperial Centre in Rocky Mount. The highway sign reads:


Black leaf house workers in Eastern N.C. unionized in 1946. First pro-union vote at tobacco factory 1 block W., precursor to civil rights movement.

Click here for the Rocky Mount Telegram article about the commemoration.