September 2, 2018
Generations of persistence for shared prosperity in Canton, North Carolina
Since 1906, a papermill has been the economic heart of Haywood County, North Carolina, where, for over forty years now, successive generations of millworkers and members of United Steelworkers Smoky Mountain Local 507 have used their freedom to join together in union to organize and ensure shared prosperity in the tiny mountain town of Canton.
The Smoky Mountain News published a profile of USW Local 507, “A seat at the table: Organized labor remains strong in Haywood County,” in its Labor Day 2018 issue.
Keith Jenkins is a “four-decade, third generation employee of the mill” and president of Local 507:
“I can’t stress enough how important it is to have the ability to bargain with the company over issues — wages, benefits, working conditions, safety. We believe strongly in all those things,” he said. “At the end of the day I do believe that most folks acknowledge the fact that they are able to say with pride and dignity, ‘I have a very good job,’ and I think a lot of that’s due to the local being here.”
Listen to the Blue Ridge Public Radio story, “Canton Steelworkers Union Celebrates Labor Day.”