Tell the City of Charlotte and the Democratic National Convention: Support the City Workers’ Demands for Basic Workers’ Rights!
Click HERE [http://southernworker.org/charlotteworkersrights/]
to sign the online petition for wokers rights for Charlotte City
Workers and to sign and send a message to the Charlotte City Council,
the Obama administration, the Democratic National Convention Committee
and others, telling them you support the City of Charlotte workers'
demands for a city ordinance enacting a City Workers Bill of Rights.
Support the City of Charlotte Workers' Demands for a city ordinance enacting a City Workers Bill of Rights calling for:
* Equal across-the-board raises for all workers, not "merit" raises
* An End to unfair disciplines
* Payroll union dues deduction
* Meet-and-confer with union representatives
* Collective bargaining rights
ATTEND THE SOUTHERN WORKERS' ASSEMBLY, MONDAY SEPT 3, 1-5 PM, Wedgewood
Baptist Church, 4800 Wedgewood Dr, Charlotte, NC!
Go to [http://southernworker.org] for more info.
Southern unions, workers organizations, civil/human rights groups,
immigrant rights groups, unemployed, young workers, faith and community
will gather in a Southern Workers Assembly on September 3, the opening
day of the DNC to uplift our on-the-ground actual workers’ rights
struggles in the US South and challenge denial of basic human rights and
Federal Right-to-work (for less) laws that make it difficult to
organize unions for fairness and dignity.
2012-08-13 photographs showing the picket line in Charlotte:
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in 1968 standing with striking
sanitation workers in Memphis, TN demanding basic union rights. Yet,
still today, workers in North Carolina are denied the basic right to
collective bargaining. Charlotte City workers have been forced to work
12 hour days 6 or 7 days a week in preparation for the Democratic
National Convention and are given harsh disciplines for minor
infractions such as running over a curb. Meanwhile, the City Manager
recently gave himself a hefty 2nd raise for the year, totaling over
The attack on collective bargaining that was observed this past year in
Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and beyond was an outgrowth of the unsolved
battle against Right-to-work (for less) laws that still plague the US
South. Now the Democratic National Convention is being hosted in the
least unionized state. Charlotte is also home of more banks than
anywhere outside of New York, this is why organizers are calling it the
Wall Street of the South. Yet, this rich city cannot find enough money
to give the workers a decent raise or recognize their demands for a City
Workers Bill of Rights.
In lead up to DNC, Charlotte City Workers Picket to Demand Fairness and Recognition of Human Rights -
Over the past few weeks in the lead up to the Democratic National
Convention, Charlotte city workers have been picketing city council
demanding recognition of their basic worker rights. As the City of
Charlotte uses its status as host of the DNC to boast that it is a
world-class city, the rank-n-file workers that keep the city clean and
safe are being denied their basic rights at work. UE local 150, NC
Public Service Workers Union has released the below open letter to the
Obama Administration, Charlotte City Council and state elected officials
to honor and enact a Municipal Workers Bill of Rights ordinance and to
follow through on the ruling of United Nation's International Labor
Organization ruling to repeal ban on collective bargaining for public
"The hard work we do is vital for this city to function, so we are
asking the City Council to address our needs and rights as workers and
to establish a system of meet-and-confer with us to discuss how to keep
the city running smoothly through the convention," stated Al Locklear, a
sanitation worker and President of UE150 chapter of Charlotte City
Workers Union. "When we saw that the city manager received two raises
this year totaling over $20,000 yet we hardly didn't get anything, we
realized that our hard work is not recognized."
City workers are are campaigning for the adoption of a City Workers Bill
of Rights so that they have decent working conditions and be paid a
decent wage for their hard work. UE150 union members are also
requesting representation in grievance hearings and also voluntary
payroll deduction for workers that choose to join the union. The United
Nations' International Labor Organization (ILO) found North Carolina's
ban on collective bargaining to be in violation of international labor
standards. In that decision the ILO called on the United States
government to promote the establishment of a collective bargaining
framework in the public sector in North Carolina and called
specifically for the repeal of NCGS ß 95-98. The City of Charlotte does
have the authority to meet-n-confer with the union and grant other
basic union rights such as pay roll deduction, as is done in at least
three other cities across the state and for all state employees.
"We are sick and tired of being given 30 day suspensions without pay for
minor infractions, this can be devastating to a worker's life" stated
Barbara Edgecombe, who is a sanitation worker and Secretary-Treasurer
for the City Workers Union chapter of UE150. "Then when we get
suspended, we are not even given the basic right to representation to
give us a fair chance to defend ourselves on the job."
Charlotte City Workers Union chapter along with the statewide UE150, NC
Public Service Workers Union and dozens of other unions and workers
organizations from states across the US South will be participating in
the Southern Workers Assembly on Monday, September 3 on Labor Day, the
opening day of the DNC to continue to raise their demands for
recognition of a Workers Bill of Rights. The Southern Workers Assembly
is asking for other national unions to endorse and send support for
their efforts to organize the South and build a long-term Southern Labor
More information can be found at [http://southernworker.org]
2012-08-24 "Charlotte (N.C.) City Workers: 'We'll Protest Through the DNC'; 'They Want to Run Us to Death!'" by Josh Eidelson [http://www.salon.com/2012/08/24/they_want_to_run_us_to_death/]:
Josh Eidelson is a freelance journalist and a contributor at The
American Prospect and In These Times. After receiving his MA in
Political Science, he worked as a union organizer for five years.
In two weeks, Democrats will gather in Charlotte, N.C., and pledge once more to strengthen the right of workers to join unions and negotiate with their bosses. But the convention's success depends on the work of the city's sanitation workers, who are banned by law from exercising that right. As the party readies its platform pronouncements, those workers are asking for more concrete help.
Wednesday, leaders of a North Carolina union released a letter appealing to President Obama and the Democratic National Committee for support in their efforts to win union rights. "Despite the added work and dangers for Charlotte City workers in preparation for and in the aftermath of the DNC, and the fact that $50 million in federal funding has been allotted to the City of Charlotte to host the DNC," the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) Local 150 wrote, "the City of Charlotte refuses to address the needs and rights of the City workers."
"The workers are working like dogs," said garbage driver Al Locklear, the president of Local 150's Charlotte chapter. "They want to run us to death."
UE says that sanitation workers have been working up to 15 hours a day and up to seven days a week due to pre-convention pressures, inadequate staffing and high turnover. Locklear says the mandatory overtime hours are exacerbating already unsafe conditions: When workers point out potential safety issues with the trucks they're supposed to drive, he alleges, some managers "have told them to take them on out anyway." Locklear charges that many of the trucks, including the one he drives, also lack working air conditioning: "It is hotter on the inside of that truck than it is on the outside." "The longer they work, mistakes are made, more accidents happen," said UE organizer Ashaki Binta.
The restrictions on public workers' union rights in Charlotte are even greater than those signed into law by Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Some reports on Democrats' choice of Charlotte for their convention have mentioned North Carolina's right-to-work law and exceptionally low unionization rate. Fewer have noted that the state is one of only two in the country to ban all levels of government from negotiating any contracts with public employees' unions, regardless of how many workers support the union (some other states restrict which public employees can bargain collectively, or what they can negotiate over, or bar strikes). The ban "really is a slap in the face to public employees here," said MaryBe McMillan, the secretary-treasurer of the state AFL-CIO.
Asked about UE's criticism of Obama, McMillan said, "It would have been helpful if Democratic officials would have been more outspoken about their support for collective bargaining rights for public employees," including North Carolina officials. "Ultimately, though," she added, "I mean, President Obama and the DNC can't change the law here. It's the voters that can do that Š that's really our focus right now with our members."
Before agreeing to hold the convention in Charlotte, said Locklear, national Democrats should have said, "You want us to come down, we recognize unions and you don't. Y'all got to change." "I don't understand people like that," he added. "If they believe in unions and stand for the unions Š [why] they don't say that's wrong." Instead, he said, "It's about money now, regardless who it is."
UE's Binta said that the president and the DNC have a responsibility to back the workers' campaign: "If you're going to meet here in Charlotte, then you should be respecting the rights of the workers who are on the front line of providing for the Democratic National Convention."
In 2010, North Carolina's Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue signed an executive order instituting a procedure for state agencies to "meet and confer" - but not negotiate - with a public sector union. At the same time, Perdue told the News & Observer, "Employers know I'm against collective bargaining." (Perdue's office did not respond to a request for comment.)
In other words, some public sector union members have a venue to raise concerns and make suggestions to management. But they're still barred from having negotiations or contracts. And while some cities have chosen to institute "meet and confer" with their own employees, others have declined to - including Charlotte.
In the absence of collective bargaining, Local 150 members are still using collective action and advocacy to try to improve their conditions. But absent a union contract, Locklear says that disciplinary rules are unreasonably strict, and often enforced selectively as an excuse to fire activists. "Some of the departments are telling them, you better not get in that union - you can lose your job," said Locklear. Workers also say they were told by management that they're not allowed to wear their work uniforms when they appear at City Council to protest about their work conditions.
Overturning North Carolina's collective bargaining ban would require a new state law, a daunting proposition given Perdue's resistance and the Republican control of the state House and Senate. UE's more immediate goal is to pass a "Municipal Workers Bill of Rights" ordinance through Charlotte's City Council, which would include "meet and confer," staffing and safety standards, higher wages and the option for workers who want to pay union dues to have them deducted automatically from their checks. Under such an ordinance, said Locklear, workers would at least have the opportunity to "sit down and talk with [management] about what's going on with these trucks" and say, "This is unsafe."
In Wednesday's letter, UE leaders "implore" the Obama administration and Democrats to support such a Bill of Rights for Charlotte workers, as well as the overturning of the state ban. UE members have also been holding weekly vigils outside the City Council chambers, and they plan to raise the issue when the council meets on Monday.
The body has a 9-2 Democratic majority. Binta said UE is "close to having a majority" for a narrower ordinance to require "meet and confer" and dues deduction, both of which Charlotte's city manager has "refused to implement" on his own. But she said members face "a lot of pressure" from the Chamber of Commerce to oppose even those measures.
Democratic City Council member John Autry told Salon he would support such a bill, because "all work has value, and the people who perform that work are valuable." Reached over email, Democratic Council member Beth Pickering said, "I support the concerns of our public workers," including "meet and confer" and dues deduction, but added that the issues "require serious consideration and in-depth analysis."
In response to Salon's inquiry to the mayor's office regarding the union's safety allegations and proposed Bill of Rights, Charlotte City Attorney Robert Hagemann emailed that the city offers "a fair and competitive compensation and benefits package" and "To the extent that employees will be required to work overtime - and those will be mostly public safety employees - they will be compensated in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act." Hagemann wrote that while bargaining is illegal, the city recognizes "the right of its employees to belong, or not to belong, to a labor union."
Asked whether anti-union laws should have cost Charlotte the chance to host the DNC, the AFL-CIO's McMillan said, "I don't know if I would say Charlotte was the best choice, but from our perspective this convention is giving a lot of union members jobs Š that's also a good thing." She added that the convention could be "an opportunity for us to highlight the struggles of workers in North Carolina."
Locklear was less optimistic: "I know it's going to benefit the city, all this money they're going to be getting. But us workers, what are we going to get? Nothing but work, work, work."
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AN OPEN LETTER TO:
President Barack Obama
Governor Beverly Purdue and the North Carolina General Assembly
The Democratic National Committee
The North Carolina Democratic Party Committee
The Charlotte Democratic Party Committee
The City of Charlotte
August 22, 2012
Dear National, State, and Local Officials,
As the Democratic National Committee continues its preparation for the National Democratic Party Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, starting September 3, 2012, thousands of public sector workers, first responders, and other public service providers in Charlotte (and throughout the state of North Carolina are being denied basic and fundamental worker's rights. They are also denied important areas of cooperation by the City of Charlotte administration and management.
Unjust working conditions are part of the daily life of city workers in Charlotte. Unfair disciplinary actions such as 30 day suspensions for minor mistakes or infractions are a regular occurrence which many workers have complained about only to have their concerns ignored by management. City policies are not uniformly implemented and applied at the whim and biases of supervisors department by department. Reports of health and safety problems are routinely ignored by management. Wage increases for City workers are kept low or nonexistent while managers and supervisors have been granted thousands of dollars in pay increases and benefits provided by the city.
The Democratic National Convention (DNC) will convene in the City of Charlotte despite the fact that the State of North Carolina has been cited by the United Nations' International Labor Organization (ILO) for its violations of international labor standards due to North Carolina General Statute 95-98, the law that prohibits the right to collective bargaining for public sector workers in this state.
Despite the added work and dangers for Charlotte City workers in preparation for and in the aftermath of the DNC, and the fact that $50 million in federal funding has been allotted to the City of Charlotte to host the DNC, the City of Charlotte refuses to address the needs and rights of the City workers.
As the largest city in the state of North Carolina, including being a major financial center for the Southern Region, Charlotte's policies and practices on worker rights is an important trendsetter for the entire state.
Moreover, conservative forces in the NC General Assembly recently eliminated the right of payroll dues deduction for members of the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), the union for teachers and education workers. The City of Charlotte administration, following this conservative line, has refused to allow payroll dues deduction for it's City workers who belong to unions and worker associations, and to set up a system of meet-and-confer that allows workers and management to meet, discuss, and resolve issues affecting the workers and the services we provide.
The right to clear, just, and fair policies in the workplace, fair and just working conditions, and regular "meet and confer" sessions between workers and their representatives with state and local administrators and managers are clearly a need in the state of North Carolina for public sector workers. We are calling for the adoption of a "Worker's Bill of Rights" for public sector workers at the local and state levels to recognize, codify, and protect our rights and interests as public employees.
We implore the Obama Administration, the national, state, and local Democratic Party, Governor Purdue, and state elected officials who support fairness and justice, to contact officials in the City of Charlotte and strongly urge them to honor and enact a Municipal Workers Bill of Rights ordinance.
We implore the Obama Administration to call on the State of North Carolina to repeal NCGS 95-98, thereby coming into compliance with international labor standards that the US government is obligated to uphold by its membership in the International Labor Organization of the United Nations.
Southern Workers Assembly
Al Locklear, president
UE Local 150
Richard Petway, president
UE Local 150
Angaza Laughinghouse, state-wide president UE Local 150,
The North Carolina Public Service Workers Union
UE Local 150 *
The North Carolina Public Service Workers Union
PO Box 46263
Raleigh, NC 27620
For more information on the Bill of Rights call 704-241-9856; 203-379-7711
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