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Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Workers of the World, Unite!

Posted by on Thu, Apr 14, 2016 at 8:35 AM

Good morning. If you're like me and grew up watching Michael Jordan play basketball, last night was probably pretty weird for you. Anyway:

1. Fast food workers are striking today in Durham. 

As part of a global day of protest against poor wages and working conditions for the second year in a row, fast food employees and other underpaid workers are striking in Durham today for a $15 minimum wage and a union. There will be a morning picket line at the McDonald's at 102 East Morgan St., followed by a panel discussion at noon at NCCU's Criminal Justice Building and a larger rally at 5 PM tonight with workers from across the state, as well as NC NAACP chairman Rev. Dr. William J. Barber.
click image Raise Up North Carolina workers in February's Moral Monday March. - RAISE UP / FACEBOOK
  • Raise Up / Facebook
  • Raise Up North Carolina workers in February's Moral Monday March.


North Carolina's union membership is traditionally low (partly due to its longstanding ban on collective bargaining for public employees) and currently the second-lowest in the country, but there are some signs of life: last year, it saw the eight-highest growth in the country when its membership shot up a full percentage point to three percent of the workforce. Although union membership across the country stagnated last year and has declined over the past few decades overall, the South's is starting to slowly climb and show some success in labor's effort to organize the South

The Fight for $15 movement, which has rather quietly developed into one of labor's biggest successes in years, is hot off its two biggest victories to date, getting a gradual $15 minimum wage in California and New York over the next several years. Coupled with the forty thousand Verizon workers currently on strike across the country (and the Democratic presidential candidates showing support for them), and hey, maybe labor isn't dead after all, although getting a $15 minimum wage through this legislature is going to be one hell of an uphill battle. 

2. Officer D.C. Twiddy cleared of charges in Akiel Denkins' death.

Yesterday, Wake County DA Lorrin Freeman announced that she's not going to press charges against Raleigh police offer D.C. Twiddy for the shooting death of Akiel Denkins on February 29.  From the report:

Based on all the evidence available, it is the conclusion of the District Attorney that Officer Twiddy shot Mr. Denkins in self-defense and as a matter of last resort and only because he reasonably believed his own life was in danger. This belief can be shown by the fact that Mr. Denkins was armed and grabbed Officer Twiddy’s gun during a struggle in which Officer Twiddy was attempting to lawfully arrest Mr. Denkins. Officer Twiddy’s decision to use deadly force was a lawful response to the situation and deemed necessary to defend himself. With the assistance of senior staff, District Attorney Lorrin Freeman has reviewed all the evidence collected through the independent investigation of the SBI and the applicable law and has determined that no criminal charges in this matter are warranted based on the evidence available.
The N&O reported a "heavy police presence" in the area of Southeast Raleigh where Denkins was killed soon after the announcement was made. "I feel like they're antagonizing us," Denkins' sister told reporters. 

3. Today in HB 2 backlash...
Also, in case you missed it yesterday, give Lily Carollo's column on HB 2 a read, and share it with someone in your life who just doesn't know much about transgender people or LGBT issues in general. The first step in turning this ship around is educating people about why this law sucks.

4. An Elon law professor is running against Phil Berger as an independent.

Elon labor and consumer protection law professor Eric Fink is currently trying to gather enough signatures - he needs 5,000 - to face Phil Berger in November. Running on a platform focused on education, civil rights, and repealing HB 2 as well as ensuring full non-discrimination protections, Fink would be Berger's only challenger, as no Democrat filed to run in that race. Berger won his last race by nineteen points. 

"[HB 2 is] just such a strong new example of the kind of measures they have been adopting that I think are just not good,” Fink told YES! Weekly. “My goal is to challenge the direction that the Republicans have been moving in and also to put forward an alternative, in broad ideas and concrete real ideas for restoring public schools and making sure everyone in the state is treated with full and equal respect.” If we could only be so lucky.

Have a good one. 

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