Southern Workers Assembly: A Rank-and-file Call to Action for Labor to Mobilize to Join the Front Line Struggle

by on May 19, 2013

Starting in late April and continuing into July, several thousand people from across North Carolina, lead by Rev. William Barber II, President of the NC NAACP have marched every Monday into the state legislative building in Raleigh and packed the rotunda. Over 600 people at the various actions blocked the door to the Senate chambers and refused to move until they were arrested.

Listing legislative assault after legislative assault on poor and working people, he questioned the crowd in his fiery sermon: “What do we do when we are under attack? “ The crowd chanted in response: “We fight; we fight; we fight!”

On May 13, Southern Workers Assembly Co-Coordinator Saladin Muhammad, along with several rank-and-file members of UE local 150-NC Public Service Workers Union, American Postal Workers Union, National Association of Letter Carriers and a staff person from the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (AFL-CIO) and several student labor activists got arrested as part of a labor delegation.  More labor activists have been arrested since then. Below is a statement that was issued from the SWA at the rally:

We are here as a rank-and-file labor delegation, to visibly join in this important frontline struggle for civil and human rights; and as a call to action for other rank-and-file workers in unions and worker organizations throughout the state to become a more visible and organized part of this struggle at our workplaces and communities, and not allow our voices to be silenced or separated from the voices of the people.

The attacks on workers, the poor, and marginalize and immigrant communities, in addition to being an attack on the core human needs and rights that all who honor social justice have fought, got beaten, gone to jail and died for, is also aimed at silencing our collective voices and actions to challenge these human rights violations. Those in power in the NC legislature are trying to dis-empower and dismantle the organizations of working and poor people that unite us across race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality and abilities to act and speak collectively against the injustices that we experience on our jobs and in society.

The bills that seek to gut the state personnel act, that cut the amount and length of time of unemployment benefits, to ban the use of payroll deduction for state and local government workers to voluntary contribute union dues, to make the ban on collective bargaining rights for public sector workers and voluntary card check for private sector workers a constitutional amendment, and to cut Medicare instead of expanding it when there are millions without health insurance and voting rights, are an attack on basic democracy.

Yet, these legislators are doing everything to increase the power of the employers to exploit, mistreat and divide the workers to increase their power, including their power to privatize vital public services. They want organization, power and resources for the chambers of commerce, the manufacturing associations, the corporate lobbyists, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and cuts in corporate taxes. They want to bring the Art Popes and other corporate elites to have direct power and control over all branches of government.

If we don’t take a stand to defend and expand democracy, we are risking losing the weak job security rights we have, we are risking the rights and dignity of future generations, as we see the education of our children now being sacrificed before our very eyes.

The attacks on the people’s rights are an attack on labor rights; and the attack on labor’s rights an attack on the people’s rights.

North Carolina Regional Worker Speak-out Forums

Sponsored by Southern Workers Assembly, UE local 150-NC Public Service Workers Union, Public Schools First NC, Nat’l Association on Mental Illness-Granville Co, Teamsters local 391, NC Association of Educators, International Worker Justice Campaign

  • Sat. June 8: Granville/Vance/Person/Warren County area: 11:00am – 1:00pm
    Betty Lue’s Restaurant
    1597 HWY 56E Creedmoor, NC
    More info call 252-314-2363
  • Sat. June 15: Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area: 4:00pm
    NCAE building
    700 South Salisbury St. Raleigh
    To help or participate call 919-231-2660
  • Sat. June 22: Goldsboro/Wilson/Kinston/Greenville/Rocky Mount area: 1:00pm – 3:00pm
    Rebuilding Broken Places
    2105 N William St Goldsboro
    For more info call 919-273-2735

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