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Informal Labor Activism Picks Up Union Slack in NC

Protesters crowd the capitol for a Moral Mondays protest.
Matthew Lenard

A report from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks North Carolina at the bottom nationally for labor union membership. 1.9 percent of workers in the state were in unions last year. That's down from 3 percent.

That doesn't surprise James Andrews, the president of the North Carolina AFL-CIO.

Andrews says North Carolina is a "right to work" state which doesn't give unions much clout, so they don't invest much organizing energy or money here.

“I believe that the answer to workers' problems long term, in terms of protecting wages, raising wages of all workers, that they've got to be a broader movement.”

Andrews says non-union groups like Working America, fast food workers and the Moral Monday Movement are carrying on the effort for higher pay and affordable health care.

“A movement of citizens – not just workers – of all stripes working together, ultimately make change, ultimately will get our state to where it needs to be."

These groups are calling for higher wages and Social Security protections.

North Carolina's Republican lawmakers are trying once more to prevent employee associations like unions from collecting their members’ dues via payroll deductions. >>Read more

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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