For Immediate Release: April 24, 2019
Contact: Jeremy Sprinkle, 336-255-2711 / firstname.lastname@example.org
North Carolina Lawmakers Join Fight to Repeal Collective Bargaining Ban
Labor and community leaders hail the introduction of legislation to restore the freedom of state and local public employees to collectively negotiate with their employers
[Raleigh, NC] — Today, Rep. Zack Hawkins and Sen. Wiley Nickel joined workers and labor leaders to unveil their plan to repeal G.S. 95-98, North Carolina’s Jim Crow-era ban on collectively negotiated contracts for public employees. North Carolina is one of only three states with a blanket prohibition on public employee collective bargaining, and its ban is one of the most restrictive. Under state law, any “collective bargaining agreement” between the state, a county, or a municipality and a union of its employees is unlawful. This means that public sector employers and employees are not allowed the freedom to engage in collective bargaining even if they agree it is mutually beneficial for the efficient administration of public services.
“This bill is about restoring the full rights of public employees who are currently given the right to unionize but can’t enjoy the protections and benefits of a collectively negotiated contract,” said Sen. Nickel. “These employees deserve equal treatment under the law, and now is the time to give it to them.”
“Every organization can benefit from the ideas and expertise of its employees,” said Mark Jewell, President of the North Carolina Association of Educators. “Bargaining ensures that career education employees have a respected voice in the workplace and are involved in both identifying and solving school and classroom issues, which in turn promotes student learning.”
The proposal is simple: repeal G.S. 95-98 to give public employers and employees the option to collectively bargain. Even though public employees have the freedom under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to join together in union, none in North Carolina can enjoy the protections of a collectively negotiated contract. Repealing G.S. 95-98 will restore their freedom to negotiate collectively, which has been shown to promote equality, reduce turnover costs, and facilitate labor peace.
“The freedom to join together in union and collectively negotiate is a cornerstone of American democracy,” said MaryBe McMillan, President of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO. “North Carolina’s first responders, teachers, nurses, and other dedicated public servants deserve a voice on the job and a seat at the table. Our state’s collective bargaining ban is outdated, and it’s time for change.”
“It’s time to move N.C. in to the 21st century and join other states by removing the ban on collective bargaining,” said Rep. Hawkins. “There’s a new energy around this issue with new legislators and as NC continues to attract people from unionized states. We must value workers and their voices to help us build A Better North Carolina.”
Speakers at the press conference introducing SB 575 and HB 710 included Rep. Zack Hawkins, Sen. Wiley Nickel, Mayor Don Hardy of Kinston, Council Member Vernetta Alston of Durham, President Mark Jewell of NCAE, former Raleigh Police Department Sergeant and Vice President Rick Armstrong of Teamsters Local 391, President MaryBe McMillan of NC State AFL-CIO, and members of Democratic Municipal Officials (DMO).
The North Carolina State AFL-CIO is the largest association of unions of working people in North Carolina, representing over a hundred 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.