MEDIA RELEASE: Legislators, NC NAACP and Others Call for Collective Bargaining Rights for Public Workers

MEDIA RELEASE: Legislators, NC NAACP and Others Call for Collective Bargaining Rights for Public Workers

WHEN/WHERE: Tuesday, March 24, 11 a.m. in the Press Room of the Legislative Building

RALEIGH (March 24, 2009) – North Carolina law prohibits any state or local government agency from engaging in collective bargaining with its employees. That means public workers – teachers, police officers, sanitation workers – are denied a fundamental tool millions of Americans have used to improve their working conditions and stand up for their rights on the job.

A new coalition composed of more than 100 supporting partners is urging lawmakers to repeal this collective-bargaining prohibition – and to back legislation introduced by State Senators Ellie Kinnaird and Larry Shaw to do just that.

NC HOPE (Hear Our Public Employees) – a broad coalition that includes the State Employees Association of NC, the NC Association of Educators, and the NC AFL-CIO, as well as more than 100 supporting partners – held a news conference on Tuesday, March 24 to urge lawmakers to support collective bargaining for public employees.

“My brothers and sisters in the Raleigh Police Department give our very best effort to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Rick Armstrong, President of the Raleigh Police Protective Association and Teamsters Local 391 member. “It is time that the General Assembly stands up for the rights of all public employees to bargain collectively – just like workers in the private sector.”

Organizers said that support for the coalition is broad and growing.

“We have the broadest support we have ever had for this issue. Over 2800 individuals and close to 200 community organizations have joined our efforts because they understand that this is a matter of fairness,” said MaryBe McMillan, spokesperson for the Hear Our Public Employees (HOPE) Coalition, “We are simply asking that our state’s firefighters, police officers, school teachers and other public servants have the same right as workers at Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, and other private employers.”

The Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP, said that collective bargaining rights for public workers would benefit everyone in North Carolina.

“If state and local government workers had the same right as private workers to sit across the table from agency managers and jointly address this crisis as reasonable people,” he said, “I believe the resulting collective thinking about how to reduce costs would be fairer, would spread the pain evenly, would result in creative ideas for improving efficiency, and would engage the vast army of public employees in a massive reconstruction effort to get North Carolina moving again.”

Other sponsors of the news conference included the Historic Thousands on Jones Street partners, the North Carolina NAACP, and the North Carolina Justice Center.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Ajamu Dillahunt, NC Justice Center, (919) 856-3194, ajamu@ncjustice.org; MaryBe McMillan, AFL-CIO North Carolina, (919) 833-6678, marybe@aflcionc.org