Solidarity with North Carolina Education Worker Actions! SWA Statement

Deepen the workers  struggle, strengthen our unions and fight against budget cuts!

Southern Workers Assembly sends solidarity to North Carolina education workers and their union! On May 16, teachers are taking personal days to mobilize by the tens of thousands to march on the General Assembly in Raleigh.  North Carolina teachers and school workers are following the bold example of walkouts and strikes by education workers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Milwaukee, Colorado, Arizona, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere. An intensifying period of fightback is being inaugurated that is expanding consciousness and changing the terrain of struggle for all workers.

These courageous actions led largely by multinational women workers, are the result of  years of devastating austerity, cutbacks to public education and services, and the deprivation of vital resources from our communities. Instead of fighting for workers, politicians from both parties would rather give handouts from big business and billionaires. Students, parents, the community, and other worker organizations have shown incredible support in this moment of resistance. It’s clear that working class people are fed up with cutbacks and are laying the basis for a broader, class-wide struggle against austerity and for the needs of our communities.

Workers in the South and in so-called “right-to-work” (for less!) states have played a leading role in this rising tide of resistance, which has brought a new dimension of rank-and-file-led militancy to the labor movement. In most cases, the walkouts and strikes that are taking place are technically illegal according to the letter of the law. That has proven no obstacle for the determination of workers engaged in struggle together, demonstrating that workers in motion can profoundly and quickly change these dynamics of power.

In addition to being a “right-to-work” state, it is illegal in the state of North Carolina for public workers to collectively bargain with their employer. NC General Statute 95-98 was signed into law in 1959 by an all-white legislature during the time of Jim Crow segregation and major human rights violations in the United States. This law was passed during the rise of the Civil Rights movement, and at a time of organizing among the largely Black public workers. The NAACP has deemed NCGS § 95-98 to be North Carolina’s last Jim Crow law.

In March 2007, the UN’s International Labor Organization (ILO) found North Carolina’s ban on collective bargaining to be in violation of international labor standards after NC Public Service Workers Union UE Local 150 organized a series of public hearings across the state. In that decision the ILO called on the United States government to “promote the establishment of a collective bargaining framework in the public sector in North Carolina” and called specifically for the repeal of NCGS § 95-98.

In 2005, the International Commission on Labor Rights (ICLR) sent an independent delegation of international labor rights experts from around the world to North Carolina to document working conditions of public sector workers. The ICLR delegation found that NC’s prohibition of collective bargaining had resulted in deplorable working conditions for state and municipal workers, including widespread race and sex discrimination and unsafe workplaces. Both employment discrimination and unsafe working conditions violate numerous international covenants.

Big business and the politicians that do their bidding in states across the country study the anti-labor laws in North Carolina and the South in an attempt to introduce them in an increasing number of states. A prime example of this is the notorious Art Pope, multi-millionaire owner of Variety Wholesalers. Pope has used his fortune to advance his racist, anti-worker agenda in NC, and increasingly across the country. IN NC, he played a major role in engineering the resegregation of Wake County Public Schools – which was defeated by high school students in alliance with community forces – and in the right-wing takeover of the NC Legislature in 2011. He was later installed as the NC Budget Director, and oversaw a host of draconian cuts to public education and services. Pope’s agenda has been met with massive opposition.

It is also significant to note that he sits on the board of the Bradley Foundation, a far-right organization based in Wisconsin that played a pivotal role in Governor Walker’s attacks on working people there and in pushing his agenda in many other states, in addition to other far-right organizations.

In recent years, major banks and energy corporations headquartered in NC like Bank of America and Duke Energy have reported record profits, while these same corporations have foreclosed on our homes, raised our energy rates year after year, polluted our communities with toxic coal ash, and much more. In addition to the wealth handed to these corporations by the NC legislature, they are also the major beneficiaries of the Trump tax cuts.

From 2009 to 2011, the income of the top 1% in NC grew by 6.2% while the income of the rest of us fell by 2.9%. NC now has one of the lowest corporate tax rates at around 3%.

  • North Carolina ranks 39th in per pupil spending in the U.S.

  • Nearly 25% of children in the state live in poverty.

  • Over 7,000 teacher assistant jobs have been cut in recent years.

  • State legislators have taken direct aim at tenure for public school teachers, implementing a year to year contract for most teachers from 2012 until 2017, which remains in place for many to this day.

In Charlotte alone, the third largest banking capital in the U.S. – known as Wall Street South – there is a total of $2.26 trillion in financial assets between Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and other financial and corporate institutions. This enormous wealth is the product of exploitation of working class people.  Teachers, custodians, bus drivers, city workers, and laborers in all public sectors continue to break their backs building society for the rich, while the wealth we create is concentrated into the hands of a increasingly smaller group of elites at the top.

The main concern of these politicians and legislators, who are in league with banks and energy companies, is their bottom line. They would rather see us starve our children and communities than pay us living wages and fund people’s needs. It’s in their best interest to keep us below the poverty line, sick, and often too tired to fight back. But things are changing. We are following the inspiring example of educator unions all across the country, and especially in the South where most states are right-to-work. We’re encouraged by other rank-and-file workers who are pushing to make their unions fight and take more progressive and class consciousness positions. Worker organizations in the South, with education workers at the forefront in this period, have spread their energy like wildfire, and the results have been nothing short of astounding. When we move together, we see that real change is possible.

The Southern Workers Assembly affirms our support for the rank-n-file members in this historic battle, and urges you to continue to build your unions.

The conditions of NC and many Southern states forces unions into a different relationship with the decision-makers. In the days as we await the Supreme Court decision on the Janus case, which would effectively make public sector workers in all states right-to-work, we are reminded that even workers in the RTW states, concentrated in the US South, can build their unions, fightback and win. The type of mass rank-n-file action displayed by North Carolina educators is an example for us all to follow.

Fight all budget cuts!
Repeal the Jim Crow GS 95-98 ban on public sector collective bargaining!
Medicare for All!
Defend Union Jobs and Public Services!
Defeat Right-to-Work!
Organize the South!

Southern Workers Assembly, Coordinating Committee

What is the Southern Workers Assembly?

The Southern Workers Assembly (SWA) is a network of local unions, worker organizations, and organizing committees, committed to building rank-and- led democratic social movement unionism (unionism with a social justice agenda, led by and accountable to the rank-and- file) as a foundation for organizing, uniting and transforming labor power throughout the South.

SWA Core Principles: Rank-and- led democracy; national and international labor solidarity; organizing the unorganized; fighting all forms of discrimination; building a Southern labor congress; and building labor’s power for independent political action.

SWA Core Demands: Repeal Taft -Hartley and Right-to-Work laws, and collective bargaining rights for all workers.

Contact us at 252-314-2363 or  or visit

May Day, International Workers Day – Rally in Durham

All Out for May Day, International Workers Day – May 1, 2018


6:00pm – Opening rally at Police Headquarters, 505 W. Chapel Hill St., Durham
6:30pm – March kicks off
7:00pm – Rally in front of jail/DPAC

RSVP on Facebook

We call on all people of conscience, people who love their families and their communities, people who believe that every worker deserves dignity and respect:

Mass Action & Resistance on May Day, International Workers Day!

Boss Trump’s regime has shown in its first year and a half what they are all about: attacks on working people’s healthcare, raids and deportations, more wars and increased attacks on worker right’s to organize.

• A Workers Bill of Rights for all Workers!
• Workers Rights Commission in Durham now!
• $15/hr, a union and collective bargaining rights for all workers, including incarcerated workers!
• Housing is a human right – End the eviction crisis now!
• An end to raids and deportations! Stop all check-points!
• ICE out of everywhere – Sanctuary cities, schools, neighborhoods!
• An end to racist police murders and brutality – Police out of our neighborhoods and schools! End excessive funding for police and prisons! Police accountability and community oversight
• An end to wars abroad! Cut funding for Pentagon and NATO to fund the people’s needs! No to militarization of the US southern border!
• Tax the Wealthy and Corporations, not Workers! Fully funded public jobs program and all public services! NO budget cuts!
• An end to rape culture & violence against women and LGBTQ people
• Defend Clean Water! Environments free from all pollutants such as dumpsites, hog farms and destructive pipelines. Stop corporate control of food systems, through GMO’s and FDA manipulation.
• Free and appropriate healthcare including reproductive and mental healthcare for all.
• Fully funded public schools including full-time teacher assistants, nurses and social workers as well as specialized art, music, world language and P.E. educators
• An end to the school to prison pipeline and a funded implementation of restorative discipline practices
• The right to build political & people’s power in the streets and at the ballot box

We invite others to join this call!

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we remember what he taught us – the triple evils of POVERTY, RACISM and MILITARISM are forms of violence that exist in a vicious cycle. We must fight them all at once on a global basis. It is no longer possible for the workers and the oppressed to conduct our struggles on a solely local basis. The changes in global capitalism have made it both necessary and far more possible for the struggle to be waged on a globally coordinated scale. John Bolton being elevated to be Trump’s National Security Advisor only creates more likelihood of strike-first wars abroad, including renewed threats against Syria and Russia. And recently, over 1,000 Palestinians were shot in peaceful protests demanding the right to return.

Boss Trump’s tax plan was a massive shift of wealth away from workers and into the hands of corporations and the wealthy. While simultaneously increasing military spending to $700 billion, state and federal budget cuts loom on the horizon, gutting vital social service programs. The tariffs projected for steel and aluminum blame workers abroad and will only result in further job cuts. The looming Supreme Court decision on Janus vs. AFSCME, could turn the rest of the country’s public workers into right-to-work open shops.

At the same time, we salute the rank-n-file education workers who have built statewide strike actions in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona. This type of bold mass action has lots of lessons for all working people. We say: make the banks and energy corporations pay!

The attacks on the DACA program, threats of militarizing the southern border, and ICE raids have intensified the terror facing immigrant families. On April 11, ICE conducted raids across the country, locally they detained 6 undocumented immigrants in Orange County, NC.

Durham is facing an evictions crisis, where over 1,000 families get evicted every month. It’s our bosses that are gentrifiers, that are making super profits off our misery and displacement.

The Trump administration continues to promote the devastating Keystone XL, Dakota Access and Atlantic Coast pipelines, one of which cuts through our own state, while also threatening to totally gut the EPA and its environmental protections. Sexual violence continues to happen at epidemic levels in the U.S., and women and people who are Black, Latinx, indigenous, queer, and transgender are at highest risk.

We invite all working people, students, immigrants, Muslims, mothers, trans and queer workers to unite in action on May Day!

We welcome mass protests against Trump, racism and sexism, and encourage mass action to support workers, immigrants, Muslims, women, queer and trans folks. These mass protests are a sign that millions are becoming woke. We support building an independent resistance led by workers and the oppressed of the planet. We commit to building together with all independent progressive forces to face down global capitalism and wars and rid the world of poverty, hate, and oppression once and for all.

We call on all local organizations of working people to send your endorsements for the 2018 May Day action to

Onward to May Day Mass Day of Action!

#MayDay #1u #1uenough #unionpower #OrganizetheSouth

HERALD SUN: Durham City Council wants to overturn N.C. ban on collective bargaining

WNCN: Durham school board votes to end custodian outsourcing


DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The Durham school board vote unanimously Thursday night to have all its custodians become Durham Public Schools employees, rather than work with outside contractors.

DPS Chief Operating Officer Aaron Beaulieu outlined a plan to begin phasing in an in-house custodial program on July 1, with a goal for full implementation by Jan. 31, 2019.

Currently, a majority of the custodians who work in Durham Public School are employed by contractor Service Solutions or its subcontractor, Premiere. DPS said of its 120 fulltime custodial staff, only 33 are DPS employees. More than 200 part-time staff work for either Service Solutions or Premiere.

“Victory! We won a victory,” said Deborrah Bailey a custodian who was worked for Service Solutions for nine years.

Bailey was one of more than a dozen custodians who spoke during the board meeting. Most were in support of moving custodial services to an in-house model.

“The public put you in office to do the will of the people. The will of the people right now is not to outsource this. The will of the people is to keep this in-house,” one custodian said to the school board members.

School Board members began looking into making a switch from private to public custodial service several months ago after part-time custodians employed by Service Solutions complained of unfair wages.

Part-time employees with Service Solutions receive $8-9 per hour, but receive neither sick nor holiday time, according to a DPS presentation.

During the meeting, board members weighed several options for the DPS custodial program. They ultimately agreed on the in-house model. Under than plan, part time wages would increase to $11.22 per hour, in accordance with the state salary schedule. Part-time workers will also receive paid sick and holiday time.

Full time staff will receive between $13.37 and $16 an hour, paid sick and holiday time, as well as state employee health and retirement benefits.

While board members were in support of moving to the in-house model, there was concern as to whether the switch was feasible, given the district’s current focus on hiring teachers.

Beaulieu suggested, and the the board agreed, that the system hire in stages, beginning in July, to fill custodial management positions. In the following months, head custodians would be hired and trained, equipment and supplies would be purchased, and more than 200 custodians would be also hired and trained.

All custodians employed by Service Solutions or Premier would have to reapply for their jobs to go through a DPS background check.

According to a DPS survey, half of the DPS principals were not satisfied with the quality of service provided by Service Solutions. The survey found a majority of elementary school principals supported moving to an in-house program, while a majority of secondary school principals did not.


INDY WEEK: Durham Workers Are Coming Together To Demand More Rights and Protections from Their Employers


Read the article as it appeared in the Indy here

Labor groups in Durham are uniting to demand more rights and protections for workers in the Bull City.

The Durham Workers Assembly, as the collective is known, met Thursday night to share stories of abuse in the workplace and draft a Workers’ Bill of Rights to present to the City Council along with a request to establish a Workers’ Commission. The initiative was started by Raise Up for $15, the Durham City Workers Union chapter of U.E. Local 150, graduate assistant and adjunct faculty members at Duke University, the N.C. A.F.L.-C.I.O, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

Part therapy, part brainstorming session, attendees who spoke about their own experiences at work were moved enough — whether by anger or camaraderie — to diverge from prepared remarks. They spoke about low wages, inconsistent hours, injuries on the job, and missed time with their families.

“We don’t need a commission, we’re demanding that shit,” said Eric Winston, with
Raise Up for $15, part of the national Fight for $15 movement to raise the minimum wage. “We need to get angry. We’re too nice with these people.” Winston said he works three jobs to support his family, including an elderly mother and sick relative, and rarely has time to spend with his children.

“I’m missing money right now,” he told the group.

Continue reading INDY WEEK: Durham Workers Are Coming Together To Demand More Rights and Protections from Their Employers

HERALD SUN: Is Durham a union town? Labor groups hope so.

On eve of Martin Luther King’s Day, workers from across industries united to demand Workers Commission

Durham, NC—At 4PM on Friday, January 12, more than 40 workers and community allies gathered in front of City Hall to launch a city-wide campaign to unite working families for better working and living conditions in Durham.

At the rally, Daryl Brunson, solid waste equipment operator with the City of Durham and a UE150 steward spoke. “This past summer, a city worker in Charlotte was killed from heat-related illness after working overtime in the summer heat,” he said. “We are fighting for a safety policy to protect against this.”

The Durham Workers Assembly made their public launch after months of meetings. According to organizers, they timed the public launch for the Friday before Dr. King holiday because Dr. King’s Poor People’s campaign had at its heart the fight against economic and racial injustices, which included core union rights, many rights we are still fighting for today in Durham.

Priscilla Smith, leading member of the Durham chapter of National Domestic Workers Alliance – We Dream in Black Chapter, stated “we are here fighting for living wages because the cost of living is continually rising but our paycheck are not rising with it. The world says you are not doing your part if you don’t go to work and pay taxes, but we are doing that and are still not able to support our families…They say raise your children but how can you when you have to work so hard and long to provide a roof over their heads and put food on the table?”

Cathy Shuman, an executive board member of the SEIU Southern Region-affiliated Duke Faculty Union also spoke at the action: “Our coalition unites workers from different neighborhoods, different races, and different industries. We’re fast food workers, home care workers, maintenance workers, transportation workers, and teachers, like me,” she said. “Together, we’re sharing our struggles and sharing our power, taking our efforts to local employers and elected officials.”

The Durham Workers Assembly will be organizing worker speak-out forums as a space for workers across the city to address common workplace issues. The next event will be on February 1st. It will be the first forum where several city council members are expected to make an appearance.  The press is invited to attend to hear stories of local worker organizations.


The coalition campaigning for a Durham Workers Commission is being organized by the Durham Workers Assembly which includes unions, community groups, and worker activists who are dedicated to making Durham a better place to live and work including the which is composed of Raise Up for $15, Durham City Workers Union chapter of U.E. local 150, graduate assistant and adjunct faculty members of SEIU Southern Region at Duke University, N.C. A.F.L.-C.I.O, National Domestic Workers – We Dream in Black and many non-unionized workers from across Durham.