North Carolina: Dead Last in Union Density

The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says that North Carolina has the lowest union density of any state in the union. Expressed as the "percentage of each State’s nonagricultural wage and salary employees who are union members," NC sits at 3.7%. (source - PDF)

This is something that North Carolina conservatives are no doubt proud of: unions are bad for profits (nevermind that they're good for people). And I fully understand that some unions have done as much as Friends of Big Business to give unions a bad rep.

But it seems to me that even if you're skeptical about the value of unions, dead last is not where you want to be on the list. A union is often the only way for the interests of workers to find representation in business decisions. Also, big businesses lobby the hell out of Congress (after all, it's their Congress too, right?) in ways that Joe SixPack can't seriously compete with on his own. It was unions who ended child labor, invented the 40 hour work week and the weekend, and played an instrumental role in bringing about free universal public education.

So why are unions so underrepresented in NC? (Part of the problem is certainly the state law forbidding state employees, including teachers, from unionizing.)



Who gives a damn about workers. They're just for . . . well, working. They're just for making Art Pope rich so he can keep being the retail king of the sandhills.

Interestingly enough

One of the few union shops in the state is in Chapel Hill Transit. That's right, local government.

Union underrepresentation

The why is historical. Almost 60 years ago there was a monumental and in retrospect catastrophic textile workers strike. Eight union picketers were killed in cold blood in South Carolina.

In North Carolina, the Communist Party USA (it was before the Cold War, after all) were among the outside organizers of the textile strike. After World War II (it is now the Cold War), Southern states passed right-to-work laws in order to bribe companies to relocate South; and they demonized labor unions as communistic. The propaganda campaign worked and its effects are still with us. The phenomenon of people who would be well served by labor unions being afraid or unwilling to join them.

The last publicly trumpeted labor victory was the organizing of the Hamlet chicken plant after workers were killed in a fire because management locked the fire exits.

Thanks for taking time to

provide that context. Much appreciated.

One of these days I'll tell the story of a non-profit organization in the that faced the union question . . . and share some of the angst it created. Not tonight though.