- I am a long-time community activist and labor union leader. I’m the former president of North Carolina Public Service Workers Union. I was a founding member of Black Workers for Justice. I am from North Carolina.
Those present at the February 1992 planning meeting for the Imperial Food Workers memorial March and Rally included Ashaki Binta and Cassandra Smith (co-chairs), Cornell Locklear, Angaza Laughinghouse, Jim Grant, Gini Webb, Marcia Dean.
Black Left Unity
On the weekend of May 31-Jun 1,2008, dozens of African American organizers, artists and activists convened the first Black Left Unity Meeting at the Sonia Hayes Center in Chapel Hill, NC.The gathering was a continuation of the Black Left Unity caucus that meet in Atlanta during the US Social Forum.
Those who attended the conference included Saladin Muhammad, Black Workers for Justice and the Black Workers League; ILWU Local 10 leader Clarence Thomas; activist and poet, Amiri Baraka; Million Worker March leader, Brenda Stokely; Ana Edwards, Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality; Ajamu Baraka, U.S. Human Rights Network; Patrisse Cullors, Labor Strategy Center; Efia Nwangaza; Theresa El-Amin; Kali Akuno from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Jaribu Hill, Mississippi Workers for Human Rights; Vickie White, People’s Organization for Progress; labor organizer, Angaza Laughinghouse; Larry Adams, New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW); cultural artist, Luci Murphy; educators Muntu Matsimela, T. Menelik Van Der Meer and Sam Anderson; Yvette Modestin, Afrocaribenas y de la Diaspora; Colia Clark; and activists representing Fight Imperialism-Stand Together (FIST) and the Troops Out Now Coalition.
"Organizing the South"
After the UAW’s bid to represent workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee was narrowly defeated last winter, mainstream pundits wrote off the AFL-CIO’s much-vaunted commitment “to develop a Southern organizing strategy.” But the obituaries are premature. Just days after the vote, panelists at a crowded forum in Durham, North Carolina October 2014 , rejected the pessimistic conclusion that organizing unions in the South remains futile and pointed to areas of potential growth. Their common message was that unions can win in the South through a variety of tactics, such as reaching out to new constituencies, cultivating and mobilizing community support, running innovative campaigns, recruiting and retaining public sector workers, and political action.
MaryBe McMillan, secretary-treasurer of the North Carolina AFL-CIO, believes that the changing demographics of the South, with people moving from elsewhere in the United States, along with substantial immigration from other countries, mean growth in segments of the population—particularly African Americans and Latinos—that are more likely to support unions. These trends represent an opportunity for labor and for the broader progressive movement.
Justin Flores, vice president of FLOC, noted that farm workers lack any protection under federal labor law, and many are also vulnerable as undocumented immigrants. Despite these challenges, FLOC was able to follow a successful strike against the Mt. Olive Pickle Company with a ground-breaking collective bargaining agreement between the union and the North Carolina Growers Association... Zaina Alsous, an organizer with NC Raise Up, discussed the ways that retail and fast-food workers have departed from the traditional union organizing script of seeking formal certification through National Labor Relations Board elections...In North Carolina, commented Angaza Laughinghouse, president of the North Carolina Public Service Workers Union, UE Local 150, collective bargaining agreements between unions and public employers are illegal, as are strikes by public service workers. Despite these obstacles, UE 150 has succeeded in organizing and winning improvements in wages and working conditions for its members. It has done so through rank-and-file workplace action, including wildcat strikes in some instances.
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance Coordinating Committee
- Asian Pacific Environmental Network (Mei-ying Williams, Miya Yoshitani
- Black Workers for Justice (Ajamu Dillahunt, Angaza Laughinghouse)
- Causa Justa/Just Cause (Maria Poblet)
- Community to Community Development (Tara Villalba, Edgar Franks)
- East Michigan Environmental Action Council (Diana Copeland, William Copeland)
- Indigenous Environmental Network (Kandi Mossett, Tom Goldtooth)
- Just Transition Alliance (Jose Bravo)
- Miami Workers Center (Marcia Olivo, Trenise Bryant)
- Southwest Workers Union (Diana Lopez)
- Vermont Workers Center (Kate Kanelstein, James Haslam)