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51st Annual Convention Wrap Up

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Jack Marion, IAMAW 2444, with Lt. Governor Bev Perdue

It's time to Turn Around America

This year, the North Carolina State AFL-CIO Convention, held at the North Raleigh Hilton, focused on labor’s effort to Turn Around America this election cycle. Many of the convention workshops and speakers emphasized the issues important to workers in this election, such as health care for all, the Employee Free Choice Act, fair trade, and the economy.

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We were pleased to have at the convention: Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, our endorsed candidate for Governor, Sen. Walter Dalton, endorsed candidate for Lt. Governor, and Sen. Kay Hagan, endorsed candidate for US Senate.

Convention delegates were impressed with the presentations by Joan Hill, United Steelworkers, Dana Cope, Executive Director of SEIU 2008 (SEANC), and Cathy Howell, Eddie Acosta and Nick Unger of the national AFL-CIO. These speakers clearly linked the economic concerns of workers with the need for policy changes in Washington, DC and Raleigh - changes that will only occur if the worker-friendly candidates are elected.

Cecil Roberts fires up delegates during his keynote addressA major highlight of the 2008 convention was the COPE Banquet speaker, Brother Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America. Brother Roberts made the case to delegates why John McCain should not be elected president and be allowed to continue the bad policies of George Bush. He made clear the need to “Turn Around America” by electing Sen. Barack Obama, a strong supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act and other issues important to working families.

Another highlight of this year’s convention was the presentation of our 2008 P.R. Latta Award to BCTGM 229T and IAMAW 108. Members of both unions were on hand to accept the award on behalf of their membership which is slated to lose their jobs because their employer, Philip Morris Tobacco, announced the closing of the plant located in Concord, North Carolina. Brother P.R. Latta of CWA 3611 was on hand to make some remarks to the delegates before the presentation of the award.

During the convention, we recognized the affiliation of two worker centers with the state federation and area Central Labor Councils. The Beloved Community Center in Greensboro and the Western NC Workers Center in Morganton have long been allies of the labor movement, and we are proud to have them officially affiliated with us.

Lewis Cameron, IAM W369 President accepts strike assistance at ConventionDelegates also raised $1,500 for the Moncure Plywood workers who have been on strike for a fair contract since July.

As part of convention business, delegates approved resolutions addressing the concerns of North Carolina working families such as education and training, protection of Social Security, support for an international container port terminal, justice for tobacco harvesters, support for our Labor 2008 program, and support for state and federal legislative issues, including collective bargaining rights for public workers and the Employee Free Choice Act.

Convention delegates also approved a small per capita dues increase of $.05 per member effective Jan. 1, 2009 and an additional $.05 effective Jan. 1, 2011.