January 28, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Greensboro, NC – Members of the recently formed Greensboro City Workers Union picketed outside a City Council meeting Jan. 17, then went inside to urge that the city recognize the union.
“There needs to be some change and we need to work together to make that change happen,” sanitation-department worker Charles French, the union’s president, told the Greensboro News & Record. Previous efforts to explain workers’ problems such as understaffing “fell upon deaf ears,” he added. Another issue is pay equity: The City Council voted in 2015 to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour for full-time city workers and $10 for part-time and seasonal workers, with the goal of bringing it up to $15 by 2020—but the rule doesn’t cover more that 200 “roster” workers, who are hired through temporary agencies and can make as little as $8.33. North Carolina, the least-unionized state in the nation, bans collective bargaining by public employees. Despite that ban, United Electrical Workers Local 150, which the Greensboro union is affiliated with, has won paycheck dues deduction in the cities of Charlotte, Raleigh, and Durham, and it also represents workers in the University of North Carolina system and two state agencies. Read more