The N.C. Justice Center Has Long Been a Union Advocate. Now It’s Practicing What It Preaches | Triangulator | Indy Week
Pin It

The N.C. Justice Center Has Long Been a Union Advocate. Now It’s Practicing What It Preaches 

North Carolina has long been known as an anti-union state. We have the second-lowest unionization rate in the country, just behind South Carolina.

Recently, however, labor has had some cause for optimism: Duke adjunct faculty members voted to form a union, and in December, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee helped seven former workers of state senator Brent Jackson sue him in federal court for unpaid wages. Now one of the state's largest progressive think tanks, the North Carolina Justice Center, has unionized, too, joining the National Organization of Legal Services Workers. The contract went into effect July 15.

Marion Johnson, policy advocate for the Justice Center's Budget & Tax Center and the union chairman, tells the INDY that members started organizing in the summer of 2013. The Justice Center voluntarily recognized the union in spring 2014, after a majority of the members indicated they wanted to join a union.

"The Justice Center practices what it preaches," says executive director Rick Glazier. "We believe in workers' rights and union capacity to advocate for and protect those rights in a myriad of circumstances. We would be hard-pressed to lobby other employers and the state to do what we say but not follow through on that ourselves."

"We wanted to have a formal say in the decision-making process about our own wages, benefits, layoffs, and other working conditions in the organization," Johnson adds. "We felt like a union was the best way to allow us to have a formal seat at the table when these things were being discussed."

Union leaders are obviously happy with the decision. "The staff at the N.C. Justice Center have long been allies of ours in the fight for economic fairness, so we are excited to welcome them as members of our state's labor movement," state AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan said in a statement. "I hope this inspires other non-profit employees to organize."

In some nonprofits, there's a stigma around unionizing because of limited resources. AFL-CIO communications director and Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild member Jeremy Sprinkle says these concerns shouldn't be a deterrent.

"Just because we work for just causes doesn't mean we don't deserve just wages or to have a good life outside of work," Sprinkle says. "If anything, joining in union and having a negotiated contract makes it possible for me to be a more effective advocate for my cause."

Johnson says she's optimistic that unions can make a push in North Carolina in the future.

"We have such fantastic unions working here already: Black Workers for Justice, AFL-CIO, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, and UFCW are some that come to mind," she says. "I really think it's just a matter of showing people that hey, this works, and it's not about anything but protecting the rights of all kinds of workers."

triangulator@indyweek.com

  • Union leaders are obviously happy with the decision.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Triangulator



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

"Powell has another idea. "I really wish Wake would experiment with taking officers out of the school and evaluate the …

by Educate1` on After an Incident at Rolesville High, Activists Wonder if Schools Need Cops (Triangulator)

Just to clarify, basically the only people currently eligible for Medicaid in North Carolina are pregnant women, families with minor …

by Smilla on Good News: Roy Cooper Wants to Expand Medicaid. Bad News: It Might Be Illegal. (Triangulator)

Yolanda Stith could not be less qualified for this position. What a blatant political giveaway.

by J.P. McPickleshitter on On His Way Out, Pat McCrory Places Close Advisers on Key State Boards (Triangulator)

FYI, you have the pictures of Lee Roberts and Andrew Heath switched.

by Bob Coats on On His Way Out, Pat McCrory Places Close Advisers on Key State Boards (Triangulator)

Thanks, Lewis. We've made a correction to the info graphic.

by Susan Harper, INDY Publisher on On His Way Out, Pat McCrory Places Close Advisers on Key State Boards (Triangulator)

Comments

"Powell has another idea. "I really wish Wake would experiment with taking officers out of the school and evaluate the …

by Educate1` on After an Incident at Rolesville High, Activists Wonder if Schools Need Cops (Triangulator)

Just to clarify, basically the only people currently eligible for Medicaid in North Carolina are pregnant women, families with minor …

by Smilla on Good News: Roy Cooper Wants to Expand Medicaid. Bad News: It Might Be Illegal. (Triangulator)

© 2017 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation