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The State Of Labor In North Carolina

Labor Day was established as a national holiday in 1894 to celebrate the achievements of American workers. What does labor in the state and nation look like today?   In 2013, North Carolina had 130,000 workers earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 or less, comprising 5.8 percent of all hourly-paid workers.

Opponents of a higher minimum wage say it will raise unemployment and lure away businesses, while advocates see a raise as necessary to a sustainable workforce. Recent campaigns and projects across the state are working toward creating sustainable local economies and better wages for low-paid workers.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Steve Fraser, author of "The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth Power" (Little, Brown and Company/2015), about the history labor movements in the United States. Stasio also talks with Carolyn Smith of Working America and Rev. Sekinah Hamlin of the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative about a recent grassroots campaign in Greensboro, N.C. that resulted in higher wages for city employees.

Also on the program is Eric Winston of Raise Up for 15, a sub-group of the national Fight for 15 campaign pushing for a federal minimum wage increase of $15. Stasio talks with Vicki Meath, director of Just Economics in Asheville and Robbie Roberts, owner of the Triangle-based coffee shop Joe Van Gogh about promoting living wages for local businesses. And Campbell Harvey, professor at Duke Fuqua School of Business, talks about the way management experts respond to wage proposals.

Charlie Shelton-Ormond is a podcast producer for WUNC. His fascination for audio storytelling and radio journalism began as a broadcast major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He began his career as a reporter for Carolina Connection, UNC’s student-led radio news show, where Charlie’s work won multiple Hearst Journalism Awards.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.