I found a story, posted at Politico, about some disgruntled North Carolina business owners who were whining about how the DNC is favoring union labor for the preparations needed in the lead up to the Democratic National Convention next year in Charlotte. If so many of my fellow North Carolinians weren’t already suffering in the wake of decades of financial deregulation and anti-union rhetoric across this state the whole situation would be comical.
John Montieth, an executive at Heritage Printing and Graphics in Charlotte, said he spent, by his calculation, twenty hours a week for three months working to get convention-related signage jobs he figure(d) could amount to as much as $250,000 in business. “I went through all the hoops, went to the DNC meetings, Charlotte meetings, shook hands, and kissed babies,” he said.
Then, he said, one of the three top executives with the convention — he wouldn’t say which one — told him he wouldn’t be getting the work “unless you are a union printer. This is getting sent to union printers.”
There’s only one union printer in the area, he claimed, which wouldn’t have the capacity to do large signs.
Why aren’t there any more union printers in the state, much less the Charlotte area? Could it have anything at all to our state’s historic hatred of anything remotely resembling organized labor and worker’s rights?
Sherwood Webb, owner of the Webb & Partners project management firm in Charlotte, N.C., told a similar story to my colleague Emily Schultheis. Webb went before a committee of Democratic Convention staffers hoping to get a contract for the convention.
He was told the Convention was looking to use local contractors to run the project, but union labor to staff it — and then, he said, he was told he would have to sign an agreement stating he would use union labor for the project.
“We asked the question, how do you want to use local when no one local is unionized?” Webb told POLITICO.
It’s a bit late in the game to realize that screwing the little people in favor of the big boys all these years will eventually come back to bite you on the ass. You won’t find much union labor around these parts and there’s a lesson to be learned from the experience: union labor can be a strong selling point when dealing with progressive minded folk who stand behind their convictions.
Democrats “are trying their best to set North Carolina up to unionize it, but it will fail because unions are a dying establishment,” Webb complained. “Unions are nothing more than a social experiment.”
No Mr. Webb, unions are the living embodiment of what can be done when working people get tired of getting raped by capitalist serial rapists. The only reason unions appear (and often really are) so toothless and inept today is that some lawmakers since before the end of World War II have done everything in their power to strip workers of their human rights to organize and strike back against the tyranny of the dirty, rotten, filthy, sinking rich sons-of-bitches who refuse to play fair.
Neither businessperson suggested that the DNC should be forced to use local companies; indeed, “right to work” seems also to imply the convention’s right to use whatever labor it wants, which Montieth acknowledged.
“If they want to pick some left-wing staunch Democrat that’s fine,” he said. “I put three months into this. That’s where I get the chafed backside.”
Perhaps, Mr. Webb and Mr. Montieth, you should have gone in with your eyes open and accepted the fact that you live in a state which has never respected the rights of working people to organize and collectively bargain for better conditions at work; that has actively participated in the race to the bottom, lowering wages and cutting benefits to continue enriching the wealthy few at the top generation after generation. If you don’t like it, then stop supporting the conservative douche bags that perpetuate the problem and start demanding a better working environment for all of North Carolina’s citizens.
After so much capitulation we’ve seen from Democrats in recent years, it’s good to finally see members of the DNC doing the right thing and supporting union labor in the run up to next year’s convention. The fact that they would bring such a money making enterprise, not only a state where labor rights are all but non-existent, but to a city that is home to many malignant financial institutions like Bank of America, was insulting to most progressives in North Carolina and the surrounding region. It’s good to see them refusing to add insult to that injury.