Big changes coming to the NC State AFL-CIO

James Andrews and MaryBe McMillan at 2015 convention

Major constitutional reforms adopted and CWA honored at 2015 convention

Some 200 delegates from local unions and state councils from across North Carolina and their guests attended our 58th Annual Convention in Asheville, NC last week to chart the future of the state AFL-CIO, to adopt resolutions to guide our work, and to honor the North Carolina CWA Political Council for leading the fight against “fast-track” for dangerous new trade agreements.

View photos from the 2015 convention.

At the top of the agenda were the adoption of more than a dozen resolutions – on topics from racial justice and economic justice to voting rights and support for the postal service – and a bevy of constitutional reforms that, when fully implemented in 2017, will transition our state labor federation into an organization with a single executive officer.

Read the resolutions adopted at the 2015 convention.

Speakers to the convention included Asheville City Councilman Gordon Smith, AFL-CIO Southern Region Director Charles Clark, NC A. Philip Randolph Institute Executive Director Melvin Montford, NC Alliance for Retired Americans President Bill Dworkin, and Ryan Gurganious of AFGE’s youth chapter.

Read and share tweets from the 2015 convention.

National APWU President Mark Dimondstein delivered a passionate keynote address, saying the battlelines in our economy are clear. “It’s Wall Street versus Main Street.”

Angie Wells, CWA’s legislative and political coordinator for NC joined AFGE National President J. David Cox, Sr and state AFL-CIO campaign manager Adam Orlovich for a panel discussion about what’s at stake for our state in the 2016 election. Carolyn Smith, state director for Working America, and Ray Curry, region 8 director for UAW, headed up a panel about raising wages and organizing in the South.

“The entire AFL-CIO is firmly committed to organizing the South,” said national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who delivered a special video address to delegates.

“Working people need every single win we can get. Just look at your recent victory in Greensboro, where Working America partnered with labor and community allies to lift city wages.”  — Richard Trumka, 9/10/15

CWA honored

Every year at our annual convention, the NC State AFL-CIO recognizes the outstanding leadership of a local union or labor leader with the P.R. Latta Rank-and-File Award. This award is named for PR Latta, a longtime labor leader and activist with CWA, who died last year at the age of 95.

This year we honored the men and women of the North Carolina CWA Political Council for leading the effort to get Congresswoman Alma Adams and Congressman David Price to oppose “fast-track” for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“Lots of unions stepped up for this fight, but one union, CWA, stepped up front and made it their mission to stop fast track,” said secretary-treasurer MaryBe McMillan of the way CWA united and mobilized the whole labor movement on this issue. “CWA showed us how it was done.”

Constitutional changes

During the convention, delegates voted on changes to our state federation constitution. The proposed changes resulted from the work of two committees of our Executive Board.

Over a year ago, the Executive Board charged the Audit and Finance Committee with moving the federation toward self-sufficiency and ensuring that we are making the best and most responsible use of current resources. After reviewing our finances and other state federations’ structures, the Audit and Finance Committee proposed amending the constitution to go to a single officer structure starting in 2017.

In addition, a special Constitution Committee of our Executive Board was charged with reviewing our constitution and making recommendations for updates and clarification. In June, our Executive Board approved the proposed amendments from both the Audit and Finance and Constitution Committees.

The amendments fell into one of three categories, with the first two becoming effective immediately in 2015 and the third not going into effect until 2017.

One category were small changes that are non-substantive and simply correct errors, correct ambiguities, or generally clean up the current language.

A second category were proposed amendments that were substantive in nature, other than those that involve the change to a single officer. These changes included tweaking the funding formula for Central Labor Councils and transitioning the organization to a calendar year fiscal year.

The third category made the changes necessary to become a single officer organization. These amendments eliminated reference to “Secretary-Treasurer” or to “officers” where referring to the President and Secretary-Treasurer; made the President responsible for those duties now the responsibility of the Secretary-Treasurer; and made any necessary adjustments, such as in providing for a vacancy in office.  These changes will become effective at the opening of the 2017 convention.

All of the changes, approved by an overwhelming majority of delegates to the 2015 convention in a standing vote, had previously received the green light from the national AFL-CIO.

Affiliates may request a copy of the revised constitution by having the local president contact our office.