Progress is possible
This week, employees of the City of Charlotte won a small victory that will make a big difference in strengthening their unions.
After years of effort to win majority support, the city council voted 6-5 on Monday to allow Charlotte employees - including police, fire fighters, sanitation workers, and others - to add union dues to the list causes they can support with automatic payroll deductions. Unions will have to pay an annual fee to the City to enroll in the program.
Council woman Beth Pickering told the Charlotte Observer after voting with the majority to allow dues checkoff that, "This isn't a lot to ask for these folks."
"Many of these folks put their lives on the line every day." -- Beth Pickering, 1/15/2013
Automatic dues deduction is a matter of convenience for workers, union members included, who prior to this vote were already allowed deductions to support charities like the United Way. Denying workers dues checkoff is a favorite tactic for right-wing politicians to undermine labor unions' ability to organize against organized greed.
"A big congratulations to our Fire Fighters, City Workers, and Police for the their big win," said Southern Piedmont Central Labor Council president, Cindy Foster, in an email to us announcing the win. "We owe a big 'Thank you' to Council members" who supported the motion, Foster added.
Despite the vote, the City - like all governments in North Carolina - is still forbidden from engaging in collective bargaining with its employees by a Jim Crow-era law, G.S. 95-98.
Nevertheless, we are thrilled for our brothers and sisters in Charlotte who have won a modicum of respect on the job with this action, and we join president Foster in offering our thanks to the city councilors who made it happen.