SWA Salutes Teachers Resistance To Education Cuts in NC – Moral Monday Action, June 9, 2014

by on June 14, 2014

Onwards to building local Worker Assemblies !

Thousands of teachers, bus drivers, housekeepers, kitchen and other education workers, along with students and parents from hundreds of schools across the state of North Carolina have been organizing over the past year, starting with the incredible “walk-in” at school flag poles on Nov. 4, 2013 protesting Gov. McCrory and the General Assembly’s massive cuts to public education and attacks on education workers rights. Since then, there has been a flood of rallies and actions by public education supporters at county school board meetings across the state that effectively shut down the 25% contract scheme. Several teachers and students have gotten arrested at the Legislature as part of the Moral Monday movement. NC is 48th out of 50 states in both per-pupil funding for public education and average teacher’s pay.

Raleigh Worker SpeakOut SWA NCAE UEGovernor Pat McCrory, State budget Director and retail store mogul Art Pope, Sen. Thom Tillis, Rep. Phil Berger are to blame for the slashing funds for instructional supplies and textbooks, eliminating thousands of teacher assistants’ positions, gutting tenure rights for teachers (making it easier to fire teachers). Now they want to hold a carrot of a minor pay raise over teachers as an effort to eliminate your rights and further erode public schools.

It’s time to stop being afraid, ”stated Clara Stiers, a Westlake Middle School counselor speaking at a town hall in Apex. “Today is the beginning.”

Workers taking collective action, such as the walk-ins and speaking out at county school boards, and joining the Moral Monday movement is the only way that working people can defend our jobs, our communities and the vital services that we provide. We must continue to stay organized and support each other in our struggles for democracy in the work place. The initial call for a walk-out teachers strike shows how determined many teachers are to fight for quality education for the students that includes job security for education workers. The walk-ins that were later organized to engage education workers, parents, students and our communities, begins a the direction of forming people’s education assemblies where real educational democracy comes to life.

This action – like many before including the recent fast food and Walmart workers strikes – was a continuation of united struggle for workers across N.C., the South and the entire country. We must continue to meet after work, before work, during lunch and continue to organize actions that bring voice and power to workers. After all, we run the schools, the factories, the mental health institutions, the cities and all of society. Should we not be allowed to make decisions about how things are run?

In fact, not only is it teachers but all public service workers, and all workers generally that have seen a major decline in their standard of living and increased work loads. State employees in NC have not seen any real raise since 2008. According to the Economic Policy Institute, from 1983 to 2010 the bottom 60 percent of Americans actually lost wealth, despite the fact that the overall U.S. economy has grown over this same time period,

Even in a state without collective bargaining rights for public employees, workers will find ways to organize and express our opposition to bad decisions made at the expense of our lives, our dignity and our communities. We must continue to work to over-turn the anti-worker, anti-student, anti-poor the ban public workers that basic right to a union contract and right-to-work (for less) laws.

The Southern Workers Assembly – composed of workers from across the public sector, in private industry and also farm workers – salute and congratulate the bold and important action of education workers on November 4 to finally take a little power back. We vow to continue to work hand-in-hand with the NC Association of Educators, Organize 2020 and other rank-n-file education workers across the state to help improve schools and our workers rights. We support the work of Public Schools First NC to stop privatization of public education, so that private companies can not get rich off public services.

At the Statewide NC Workers Fightback Conference in September 2013, we launched the Workplace Democracy campaign and Local Workers Assemblies in regions across the state including Charlotte (Western NC), Goldsboro (Eastern NC), and Durham (Triangle area). These formations can help education workers unite with all other workers in public and private jobs to fight for our common interests, build democracy in the workplace and challenge corporate and government forces to achieve fully funding of all public services and build workers power.

Join us next Monday, June 16 at the Moral Monday focused on labor and workers rights!

An injury to one is an injury to all!

Education is a right!

Build the Workers Assemblies!

Organize the South!                                                                      June 9, 2014


SWA Press Coverage

by on September 5, 2012

Our Southern Workers Assembly on Monday, September 3 was widely covered by news media outlets from around the world. We packed the house at a church that was said to hold 300. Everyone gave fiery, touching talks and brought to life the power of our Southern labor organizing. This helped push out our rank-n-file message of social justice trade unionism and organizing in the South.

Media outlets are carrying our story very prominently. Below are some links to media coverage:

“They want to run us to death”

by on August 24, 2012

“They want to run us to death”

Democrats will announce a pro-union platform in Charlotte — but some convention workers say they’re forgotten

By Josh Eidelson
Friday, Aug 24, 2012

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.”

Read the entire article online at Salon.com

City Workers to Continue Protest Through DNC

by on August 22, 2012

by DIANNE GALLAGHER / NewsChannel 36 Staff
Posted on August 20, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —  Sanitation workers picketing outside the Government Center Monday said they aren’t letting the upcoming Democratic National Convention stop their weekly protests.

About a dozen people held up signs asking for increased wages, collective bargaining, and respect.

This is the third week the city workers have protested.  They said they want their union to have the right to meet and confer at least annually with city managers and council.

All of the demands are listed in a 13 point Municipal Workers Bill of Rights. The protesters said the goal is to get the City of Charlotte to adopt it.

Read the entire article on line at wcnc.com

Press Release August 1, 2012

by on August 3, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: On opening Day of Democratic National Convention the Southern Workers Assembly will be a Convergence to Organize Labor in the South

WHAT: Southern Workers Assembly

WHEN: September 3, 2012 (Labor Day) 1:00pm-5:00pm

WHERE: Wedgewood Baptist Church, 4800 Wedgewood Drive, Charlotte NC 28210

Press Contact: Saladin Muhammad of the Southern International Worker Justice Campaign at saladin62@aol.com and 252-314-2363.

On September 3rd, the opening day of the Democratic National Convention, Southern workers will hold a Southern Workers Assembly (SWA), where workers from throughout the South will gather to speak out about our vision for worker rights as human rights; and begin initial planning toward organizing a rank-and-file led workers movement in the South to build power to realize these human rights.

The mainstream U.S. and international media will flood the City of Charlotte to cover the DNC. They will hear politicians hovered over by highly paid lobbyists who will talk about their visions for the American economy and a democratic society, but none will speak about the issues and denial of rights for workers throughout the South.

“In an economy that demands that the majority of the people work in order to provide the basic necessities for themselves and families, worker rights are human rights. Yet, despite a ruling by the International Labor Organization, an agency of the United Nations, that the U.S. and North Carolina are out of compliance with international laws and conventions, neither the Bush nor Obama administrations have taken action to bring the U.S. and North Carolina into compliance. The U.S. is obligated, by treaty, to enforce this international law,” said Angaza Laughinghouse, President of statewide UE local 150, North Carolina Public Service Workers Union, a Southern Workers Assembly endorser.

The SWA will be held on September 3rd at Wedgewood Baptist Church in Charlotte starting at 1pm. It will include workers speaking from the public and private sectors and sectors excluded from protections under the National Labor Relations Act or state laws. There also will be some initial planning for a South wide meeting to form a Southern Labor Alliance to unite local unions, worker organizations, worker centers and supporters, in launching a South wide campaign to organize a labor movement.

“Since farmworkers are excluded from US labor laws, we will be present at the SWA to build relationships and raise awareness about the abhorrent conditions in which most tobacco farmworkers live and work, as we continue to pressure Reynolds American and other tobacco giants to guarantee labor rights for the Southern workers in their supply chain,” stated Justin Flores, organizer with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO.

Labor in the South beginning with African enslavement, set the basic philosophy and standard for the relationship between employer and workers. In a nutshell, this meant that Southern workers had no rights that the employer was bound to respect.

From the brutal corporate anti-union campaigns like J.P. Stevens, in NC, the Charleston ILA in SC, and Smithfield foods in NC, that saw the beating and jailing of pro-union workers, and the industrial murder of 25 workers by the Imperial Foods Company in Hamlet, NC who had no union. These attacks on workers occurred during the 1970’s through the 2000s, making clear that the legacy of denying worker rights throughout the South continues. The SWA is the start of a movement to challenge and end this legacy.

To learn more, including seeing a list of endorsers, visit http://southernworker.org. Or contact Saladin Muhammad at 252-314-2363 or Saladin62@aol.com