RESOLUTION: Support and Build the Southern Workers Assembly
The deepening capitalist crisis across the US and the entire world continues to show its deep effects with 20 million or more people unemployed and many millions more underemployed. This has lead to years of rolling budget cuts at the Federal, state, and local levels that has devastated public services and decent jobs. This also creates a climate where racist, sexist and homophobic attacks against workers and our communities is also increased, including police brutality, closing women’s health clinics, cuts to other Federal assistance programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly called Food Stamps), Medicaid, Social Security and much more.
In North Carolina, the NAACP has lead the creation of an important broad coalition of civil rights organizations, churches, anti-war, student, women’s, environmental and labor groups called the Historic Thousands on Jones Street coalition that has a 14 point people agenda. Then, in 2013 responding to Republican-dominated General Assembly and Governor Pat McCrory’s attacks on state services, unemployment insurance, refusal to expand Medicaid, eliminating the Racial Justice Act and voting rights, they launched the Moral Monday, Forward Together movement. This has been a tremendous force of people’s power, resulting in 13 weeks of civil disobedience where over 940 voluntarily got arrested blocking the state Senate chamber doors. This year, in 2014 legislative session, there were several more weeks of civil disobedience, as well.
The Southern Workers Assembly (SWA) organized to bring forth the voice of workers, unions and labor organizations wearing yellow arm bands and raising up the demands of workers and union rights, as a major part of the broader social justice movement. Otherwise, the demands of workers on the job for power, justice, dignity and better wages would have been nearly silent compared to the broader movement for overall change in society. In 2013, the SWA held of a series of public forums in 3 cities, then in September, a statewide Labor Fightback Conference to bring forth their issues and demands. In early 2014, the SWA hosted two Local Workers Assemblies in Wilson and Raleigh.
At the same time, North Carolina is the least unionized state in the entire country, and the Southern states combined have less union members than New York alone, making it the least unionized region in the country. This allows the big multinational corporations to make super profits and not have to bargain with workers and their unions. Many corporations from all across the globe invest billions of dollars in building factories in the US South. Out of at least 40 auto factories, including parts plants in the US South most with over 1,000 workers, not a single one of these plants is unionized. 11 states of states of the US South had over 43% of all US Foreign Direct Investment, making the South a major region in the global economy.
This is a continuation of racism from chattel slavery, and an attempt to keep the entire region, where a majority of the US Black workers live, at super low wages. The ban on collective bargaining rights was passed in NC in 1959 without a single Black person in the General Assembly to vote against it.
Following the conference and the agitation of the SWA, we began to see the following rank-and-file actions – teachers, parents and students held “Walk ins” at the public schools in cities across the state wearing red t-shirts in protest of over crowed class sizes, low teachers pay and the state budget cuts in education; UFCW members held a Flash mob inside of a Wal-Mart store on working poor conditions and the right to organize; the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) continue the struggle and demand on the R.J. Reynolds Corporation to bargain with the tobacco workers organized by FLOC; UE 150 held rallies at mental health hospitals and delivered demands to the headquarters of the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources; and the Fast Food workers campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour helped to popularize and energize the growing struggles for workers democracy and power that are beginning to converge.
This conscious effort to organize and raise the profile, voice and influence of labor is a growing aspect of the Moral Monday’s movement. The SWA has been building a rank-and-file movement to push labor activism and social movement unionism from the bottom up. Some national unions whose main memberships are outside of the South have contributed financial support, but most have not made a serious effort to mobilize their rank-and-file as part of and in support of Moral Mondays.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 8th Bi-Annual UE local 150 CONVENTION:
- Continues our membership and affiliation with the Southern Workers Assembly and pay our annual membership dues of $500;
- Encourages our members in areas all across the state to participate in and help build Local Worker’s Assemblies to speak-out about issues in different workplaces and to organize unified local actions to challenge unjust bosses and decision-makers;
- Encourages our members to participate in Solidarity City on Saturday, August 9, 2014 in Goldsboro, NC to continue to link up with other fighting workers organizations and agree to pay for gas mileage for any UE150 members that attend;
- Commits to mobilize workers to join Human Rights activists and other Southern unionists to attend the 10th Bi-Annual Southern Human Rights Organizing Conference in Savannah, GA from December 12-14 and pay for three members to attend with transportation, registration and hotel expenses;
- Educate our members about the significance of May Day, International Workers Day and help to lead the organizing for the May Day 2015 march and rally in North Carolina;
- UE150 will designate two point people to participate in the Southern Workers Assembly Coordinating Committee, and another person to serve on the North Carolina SWA Coordinating Committee.
- UE150 will encourage and support the Southern Workers Assembly in organizing a Southern Workers School to educate workers about the conditions across the South and share organizing strategies.