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Labor leader on the power of Moral Mondays and collective action

Moral MondaysWith today’s Moral Monday focusing on, among other things, the rights of workers in North Carolina, be sure to check out this essay from Saturday’s Raleigh News & Observer by NC AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan. As McMillan notes:

“At what cost to the residents of this state do our lawmakers and our governor do the bidding of organized greed? A devastating coal ash spill fouls our waterways, and fracking threatens our water supply. Children as young as 12 work our tobacco fields. Jobless North Carolinians struggle to make ends meet on reduced and inadequate unemployment benefits. Teachers work without pay raises, textbooks and teaching assistants. Children, the aged and the disabled are being kicked off Medicaid while hundreds of thousands are left to get sick and die, caught up in a Medicaid blockade of lawmakers’ own making. Citizens are made to overcome obstacles in exercising their right to vote. Even our right to vote is under attack. If we stand by and do nothing, we are signing off on this moral bankruptcy.

Moral Monday supporters are trying to make sure we pull North Carolina out of this moral bankruptcy by demanding that the General Assembly start governing, as our state constitution demands, “for the good of the whole” and not just the privileged few. Instead of stacking the deck in favor of those with the most political clout, we need to reward hard work and provide opportunity for everyone to pursue their own happiness.

As we focus this upcoming Moral Monday protest on working men and women, let’s keep in mind how labor unions have been a central force for fighting economic inequality and creating the middle class in the United States. Workers’ rights are civil rights, and unions have been an effective tool in advocating for both. Unions in North Carolina and across the South have long been faithful to Douglass’ vision of human freedom by striving toward equality and opportunity as engines of progress created through struggle.”

Click here to read the entire essay.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/06/14/3936159/harnessing-the-power-of-solidarity.html?sp=/99/108/#storylink=cpy

7 Comments

  1. Alex

    June 16, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Big labor is losing out all over the country. Really no place for unions in a global economy as we continue to lose manufacturing jobs.

  2. Gene Hoglan

    June 16, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Alex, that’s not necessarily true. Service sector unions have seen tremendous growth the past couple decades, as the nature of employment changes.

  3. Alex

    June 16, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Recent story about the drop in unions :

    WASHINGTON — Driven by widespread job losses in the public sector, the number of American workers belonging to a labor union has dropped to a record low, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    In 2012, the rate of union membership in the public sector fell by more than a full percentage point, from 37 to 35.9 percent of workers, while in the private sector it dropped from 6.9 to 6.6 percent. The combined rate of American workers now belonging to a union stands at 11.3 percent, down from 11.8 the previous year and the lowest figure ever since the bureau started collecting the data in 1983, when the rate was 20.1 percent.

    Most city and municipal governments like Detroit cannot afford to meet union demands for benefits and pensions, and are laying off huge numbers of employees. The future is not bright for unions in this country.

  4. Alan

    June 16, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    “Really no place for unions in a global economy as we continue to lose manufacturing jobs.”

    Absolute nonsense. The loss in manufacturing jobs in this country has little, if anything, to do with unions. More likely, the quest for ever higher profits, fueled by the worst of human greed, is to blame for the eradication of much of the manufacturing base. Only exacerbated by executive compensation policies that reward short-termism in favor of personal gain. The reason we’re “losing” manufacturing jobs is greatly influenced by domestic companies all too willing to pack up and leave to go to low cost countries. Unions barely figure into this equation.

    If it’s all the fault of all those “nasty union members” and their “greedy union bosses”, then please explain to me why the manufacturing base of countries such as France, Germany and Switzerland are doing rather well, with much of it unionized?

  5. gregflynn

    June 17, 2014 at 6:53 am

    That comment was not a “recent story”, it was from January 2013 about 2012 data from BLS. The BLS data for 2013 is essentially the same and union membership has not dropped further. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/union2.pdf

  6. Alan

    June 17, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Looks to me like the interns need to check the “data” they’re handed for accuracy and relevance?

  7. LayintheSmakDown

    June 17, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    I thought the whole spin on the MoMo thing was that the unions were not astroturfing the “movement”. Alex has a good point unions may have had a place in the times of Upton Sinclair, but these days there is no reason for them to be around. Hence the desperation tactics of shoehorning in on this little Monday thing. I for one think it is funny to see all the UAW votes around the country that come in against the unions. Workers are treated so well these days because the manufacturers know their value in making a good product.