Guardian Portrait of UE Local 150’s First Picnic in Greensboro, North Carolina

Writing for the Guardian, Payday Senior Labor Reporter Mike Elk paints a portrait of UE Local 150’s first picnic in Greensboro, North Carolina:

Charles French, the president of the Greensboro City Workers’ Union, took a mic and told the crowd to go to a nearby basketball court to watch a high-school dance team break it down.

The performance was part of a community festival in the North Carolina city, and the dance team was one of seven musical sets.

French, and other union leaders in the state, use public events like these to rally support for efforts to pass local minimum wage laws. On the face of it, it’s a difficult job. Public employees in North Carolina lack collective bargaining rights and the state’s political culture, dominated by Republicans, is often fiercely anti-union.

But in this hostile environment, French, and others like him, have had some success: a cluster of cities, towns and counties across North Carolina, including Greensboro, have passed living wage ordinances for public employees, nudging wages above the federal minimum and putting much-needed extra cash in their pockets

To read more on how public sector unions in North Carolina have won raises without collective bargaining rights, go to the Guardian. 

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing over 1,800 stories from 46 states, Elk was the only American reporter in the room with Lula on the morning of the election & traveled with him to the Oval Office. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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