Labor was on the move this past month of May.
On May 16th, we joined the historic 20,000 teachers' rally in Raleigh to demand the General Assembly reverse its defunding of our public schools (while removing funds from public schools to fund private schools and vouchers), provide the classroom resources our students deserve and pay teachers and staff the salaries that respect their critical positions in our schools. Of course the rally that won national attention, along with other teacher revolts around the country, is only the beginning. The NC General Assembly just passed a budget and continued tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest individuals and corporations among us without debate and behind closed doors that will not satisfy the demands of the public they were elected to serve. We will share teacher plans to continue organizing and marshall public school stakeholders for the upcoming election. (A useful tool is the website for the NC Justice Center' where you can find valuable information from its Budget &Tax Center's economic analysis, NC Policy Watch and its Worker Justice Center.)
On May 18, 20 of us protested outside the Circle K gas station and market as part of the nationwide boycott campaign organized by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) to press Reynolds Tobacco to negotiate living wages, and decent housing and safe working conditions for farm laborers in their supply chain. The boycott targets those markets like Circle K that sell most of Reynolds' most profitable product - its e-cigarette VUSE to remove VUSE from their shelves until Reynolds sits down with FLOC. NAACP Branch Labor Committee members, Mary Dooley, Trinita Carlton, Jesse Gibson and Miriam Thompson stood with allies who joined us, including the local Church Women United, Triangle Friends of Farmworkers, National Farmworkers Ministry, Women's International League for Peace & Freedom Triangle Branch (WILPF) and the voices of the Raging Grannies. A delegation of us went into the Circle K Manager to present our letter to the Circle K CEO. Monthly vigils are planned with the date to be confirmed.
On May 22nd NAACP Labor Committee members joined the AFL-CIO and RaiseUpfor 15 (see RaisingWagesNC.org) and over 200 workers and small business owners from around the State at the NC General Assembly in Raleigh to press the legislature to raise the minimum wage, frozen at $7.25 since 2009 - at the same time big corporations have gotten tax breaks. Talking points to legislators included: 1.3 million North Carolinians, a third of the workforce would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $12 by 2020 and $15 by 2022. Most of these workers are women, many single parents. 72% of NC voters support increasing the minimum wage according to recent polls. And increasing the minimum wage would help the economy by adding billions of dollars in consumer spending power. The lobbying power of the workers and small business owners was intense, and will continue and be a major issue in the upcoming elections. Branch members are urged to call their legislators to support HB 289/ S210.