North Carolina Fightback Conference unites workers

by on October 8, 2013
UE Charlotte city workers

UE Charlotte city workers at Southern Workers Assembly conference

Raleigh, N.C. — Workers from across North Carolina joined together on Sept. 21 for a statewide Workers Fightback Conference hosted by the Southern Workers Assembly.

In the last few months, over 940 people were arrested in protests at the State Capitol and tens of thousands took to the streets as part of the Moral Monday movement. At the same time, the SWA was building a campaign to elevate the struggles for workers’ rights, including having many rank-and-file workers arrested in the civil disobedience actions. 

Gathered for this important conference were members of the N.C. Public Service Workers Union-UE Local 150; the N.C. Association of Educators, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee of the AFL-CIO, the Carolina Workers Organizing Committee (which is helping fast-food workers organize), OUR Walmart of the United Food and Commercial Workers, the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees Local 322, as well as unorganized workers, the unemployed, youth, and community and faith leaders.

President Angaza Laughinghouse of UE Local 150 said there had been an intensified legislative assault on unions in the state this year: “The workers’ movement is currently at a critical juncture here in the ‘right-to-work’ for less state of North Carolina. This convening of rank-and-file union leaders, organizing workers and activists to share lessons and plan action, is a strategic response. Today’s Workers Fightback Conference is an important step to resist this ongoing war against workers.”

Laughinghouse added, “Today we must develop our broad campaign to oppose House Bill 6, which would put right-to-work, the ban on collective bargaining rights for public employees, and a ban on card check neutrality for union recognition into this state’s constitution.”

Conference participants discussed how workers’ democracy and power must be promoted as an essential tenet of a democratic society. This is especially important now, with the attacks on democracy driven by the economic crisis and the capitalist push for austerity given as a solution.

According to a conference document, “North Carolina workers and workers throughout the South, in addition to having the worst labor laws and anti-union climate in the country, are now undergoing further attacks on workers’ rights. N.C. is a testing ground for the introduction and passage of the most extreme right-wing and racist laws. Its open declaration of corporate control of state government was made clear by the governor’s appointment of multimillionaire Art Pope — who is the state’s single largest donor and a founding board member of the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity and Tea Party — in charge of the state’s budget as deputy budget director.

“The right-wing push to make right-to-work part of the N.C. Constitution must be described as a major attack on labor and worker rights. The passage of a referendum constitutionalizing right-to-work would be a serious political blow to the labor movement in N.C. and throughout the U.S., as it would be defined as a people’s mandate, siding with the right of the employers to exercise total power over workers.”

SWA Wages Panel

Low Wages have to Go! panel featuring (from right to left) Larsene Taylor, state mental health worker and UE150 Vice President; Jessica Benton, Milbrook Elementary school teacher, member of NCAE and Organize2020; Terrance Kellon, a fast food worker at Little Caesars with Carolina Workers Organizing Committee; Meliton Hernandez a 14-year farm worker with Farm Labor Organizing Committee and Larry Mackey, a utilities worker in City of Charlotte and member of UE150

An opening panel of the conference focused on the struggle of workers to fight for family-supporting wages. The “Low Wages Have to Go!” panel featured Jessica Benton, a Millbrook Elementary School teacher and member of NCAE and Organize 2020; Terrance Kellon, a fast-food worker with Carolina Workers Organizing Committee; Meliton Hernandez, a 14-year farmworker with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee; and Larry Mackey, a utilities worker in the city of Charlotte and member of UE Local 150.

“Whether I have to go to jail, or whatever it takes, I am going to fight for fast-food workers to get a raise,” said Kellon, a Little Caesar’s employee. “We want to form our own union and come together with other unions.”

Workers in North Carolina have no majority sign-up or collective bargaining rights. The conference discussed how to build campaigns that elevate rights at work and also working conditions, using Workers Bill of Rights campaigns. Currently being utilized by state mental health workers and municipal workers in UE Local 150, such campaigns can be a major step forward in the process of building collaboration between groups in the labor movement.

In the closing section of the conference, participants adopted a six-month plan to develop local Workers Assemblies in Charlotte, Goldsboro and Durham, N.C., to bring workers in those areas together to discuss actions and local working conditions as part of a Workers Democracy Campaign.

Walmart Workers Flash Mob – Raleigh, NC

by on September 12, 2013

September 5th, 2013, Raleigh, NC – As Walmart workers petition managers to reinstate employees who have been unfairly treated, a flash mob breaks out.

N.C. Statewide Workers Fightback Conference

by on August 29, 2013

Saturday Sept. 21, 2013
10:00am – 4:00pm

(Attend on your way home from
AFL-CIO convention in Wilmington)

Vital Link School

1214 E. Lenoir Street, Raleigh, NC**

(Corner of Rock Quarry Road)

** note updated address!

RSVP Today by emailing info@southernworker.org

The Forward Together Campaign is building a powerful social movement bringing together the many struggles for social and economic justice, human rights, and people’s democracy throughout the state of North Carolina.

The Southern Workers Assembly hosted three (3) regional Worker Speak-out Forums across North Carolina –  Granville/Vance/Warren Counties on June 8,  Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill on June 15 and Greenville/Wilson/Goldsboro/Rocky Mount/Kinston on June 22 – that drew in many rank-n-file worker activists to help build links and unity and speak-out against cuts planned by the General Assembly. 

With the rise of the corporate financed conservative and racist movements and organizations like the Tea Party, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as an infrastructure for corporate domination and the political rule of state governments, it became clear, that the mere lobbying of state legislators, and developing an electoral base that only acted during election periods, was not enough to mobilize the people’s power to effectively challenge corporate rule over government.

The Moral Monday’s initiative has become a new form of the sit-in movement, challenging corporate dominated, anti-democratic and closed government. Civil disobedience against this form of governance must spread like the sit-in movement that began in North Carolina in 1960. While a focus must be kept on state government, it must spread to the workplaces in the public and private sectors where worker rights as a major component of people’s democracy are denied.

As North Carolina has the lowest percentage of union members of all the states within the U.S., the Forward Together Campaign must call for un-unionized workers to begin a process of forming worker organizations and unions at their workplaces.

Fighting grievances and filing lawsuits alone will not be enough to effectively challenge and stop the attacks financed by Art Pope and other multi-millionaires.

In order to change the political climate in ways that strengthens the working class identity, consciousness and confidence in the fight-back against the attacks, labor unions and worker organizations must act together to help launch a movement to bring labor forward as a conscious and active force.

As representatives of the Southern Workers Assembly in NC, we are calling on rank-and-file workers in the various unions, worker organizations and union officials and organizers who identify with rank-and-file democracy and control, to join us in building a fight-back movement that includes a statewide NC Labor Fightback Conference .



The poem “Awake”, written by Cherry Hospital Healthcare Technician and UE150 steward Janice Scanes and recited by her at the Goldsboro forum.

Moral Monday’s is the day

Peaceful protestors expressing their say

Equal equality for all mankind

Awake, stand up, now is the time

Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad started a movement so slaves could be free

They put their lives on the line for you and me

Medgar Evers was gunned down at his home, fighting for our rights, he died alone

All over the world, Martin Luther King was realized, earning medals of honors and a Nobel Peace Prize

It’s vital we keep his dreams alive

Freedom’s heroes carry the torch for JUSTICE, RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE…NOT WRONG

Let’s come together in making NORTH CAROLINA better and strong

Through our struggles, pain and tears, a breastplate of iron we wear without fear. DEMOCRATS, REPUBLICANS, INDEPENDENTS and ALL….Awake! Awake! Stand Up For The Cause

There’s something you need to know! The GOP is suppressing your vote! During the election of 2014, turn out in numbers like never before seen. We will break the bondage of a non-voting fad; keep moving forward until a change is made. We won’t be intimidated, or back down, neither will we bend. Awake, Stand Up For The Cause until the end

NC legislators making poor bills with unjust flaws, quickly Governor Pat McCrory is signing them into law. These republican led legislators want to take away our civil and human rights!


Submitted by: Janice Holloway Scanes, UE 150 Shop Steward

Southern Workers Assembly unites with the March on Washington

by on August 21, 2013

50th Anniversary shows need to ignite mass struggle!

No More Trayvon Martins or George Zimmermans – Organize the South!

by on August 8, 2013

Southern Workers Assembly statement:

The Southern Workers Assembly (SWA), along will millions across the U.S. and internationally are outraged by the Sanford, Florida court’s no guilty verdict of George Zimmerman, the racial profiler, stalker and murderer of unarmed, and innocent young Trayvon Martin.

Trayvon MartinThis unjust verdict is part of a racist climate that has been intensified by the capitalist economic crisis that is attacking the entire working-class and scapegoating Blacks, oppressed people of color, women, immigrants, LGBTQ people and labor unions to divide the U.S. working-class.

The U.S. South has been the bastion for racist hate crimes and not guilty court verdicts that continue to uphold the Dred Scott decision – that Blacks have no rights that whites are bound to respect. These deeply felt atrocities from racists and the courts, reinforced by the institutionalized racism in the economic, social and political system that affects working class Blacks and people of color at work and in society, can only begin to heal when the working-class carries out the mantra that An Injury to One is An Injury to All.

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