North Carolina’s Labor Federation Elects First Woman President

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jeremy Sprinkle, 336-255-2711 or

North Carolina’s Labor Federation Elects First Woman President

Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan Succeeds First African-American President James Andrews

(Atlantic Beach, N.C., September 15, 2017) MaryBe McMillian becomes the first woman to lead the North Carolina labor movement after being unanimously elected President of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO during the 60th Annual Convention that wrapped up today.

McMillan has served as Secretary-Treasurer of the federation since 2005. She has spearheaded the cause of getting national and international unions to invest in and organize the South. Before beginning her career in the labor movement, she worked with housekeepers trying to organize at North Carolina State University, and after receiving her Ph.D in sociology did public policy research for several progressive nonprofits. In 2004, she took a job at the AFL-CIO’s Union Community Fund, where she met Andrews – beginning a 12 year partnership fighting for working families in North Carolina.

“James has mentored and inspired countless labor leaders and activists in North Carolina and beyond,” said McMillan. “For over 40 years, he has fought tirelessly to make our state a better place for working people. Our labor movement is much stronger because of James’ leadership, and so many of us are better leaders because of his example. I know that I am.”

Governor Cooper Awarded President Andrews the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the State’s Highest honor, for his more than four decades of service to the labor movement.

McMillan knows challenges lie ahead, but she is ready to lead with the support of the most diverse board in history that includes two members from the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and the first LGBTQ member.

“I look forward to working with our affiliates to build the movement we all want – one that is constantly growing, that is both big enough and bold enough to set the agenda and drive our politics, that is unafraid to hold our politicians and our own leaders accountable – a movement with the power to change this state and this nation.”

The 60th annual convention featured workshops on storytelling, internal and community organizing, and strategic planning for the future of North Carolina’s labor movement. It also highlighted the debut of a North Carolina labor history exhibit from the Knights of Labor in the 19th century to the Duke Faculty union in 2016.

“I am proud to call the new President of the North Carolina AFL-CIO my friend,” said AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre. “MaryBe is a champion of working people in North Carolina, and we will stand with her in the fight to ensure we all have the freedom to join together and negotiate. We will march with her to end discrimination at the polls in North Carolina and across America. And we will organize and mobilize across the state and the South.”

For highlights from the convention, including photos and video, check out the hashtag #ncafl60.


The North Carolina State AFL-CIO is the largest association of unions of working people in North Carolina, representing a hundred and thirty thousand members, working together for good jobs, safe workplaces, workers’ rights, consumer protections, and quality public services on behalf of ALL working people. PO Box 10805, Raleigh, NC 27605.