Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Organizing the Unions

South Carolina has the lowest unionization rate of any state in the nation, with only 2.1 percent of its workers organized. South Carolina has the 11th highest poverty rate in the United States, with 16.7 percent of its residents living below the poverty line. Despite the opening of new manufacturing plants, the state’s poverty rate is actually higher than when the recession began in 2008.

One contributing factor is that lack of unions throughout the state, which depresses wages. In fact, research shows that unions increase workers’ wages and benefits, reduce inequality and poverty, and boost economic mobility across generations.

On Wednesday, the 15th the workers at the Boeing plant in North Charleston will vote on whether to unionize.

Boeing workers have been forced to attend anti-union seminars.

Union activists say a win on February 15 could open the door for organizing in the South, beginning with the BMW plant in Spartanburg or the soon-to-open Volvo plant in Berkeley County. Union organizers say a win in North Charleston would be a huge step toward ending the  anti-union legacy, finally giving workers in South Carolina a voice in addressing wages and increasing inequality.

Mike Evans of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) explains, “When they see workers at Boeing get a first contract and it’s decent, I think a lot more people in the South will want to reach out.”

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