Complaint filed with UN Agency Accusing North Carolina of International Labor Law Violations

United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) Press Release:

For Immediate Release

Raleigh, NC

A delegation of labor leaders from six states and three countries this morning delivered to Governor Mike Easley a copy of a complaint filed with the International Labor Organization in Geneva, Switzerland charging North Carolina with widespread violations of international labor law and human rights.

Citing several tenets and Conventions of the United Nations, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) and UE Local 150 are filing a Complaint with the International Labor Organization (ILO), charging the U.S. government and the State of North Carolina with violations of international law protecting workers' rights to association and collective bargaining.

The filing coincides with Saturday's commemoration of International Human Rights Day, and figures to be a high point in the Public Sector Workers Convergence, in which union leaders and activists from several countries are meeting to address the unique needs of state and local employees.

An agency of the United Nations, the ILO is the international body that oversees and enforces provisions of international law governing workers' rights. UE Local 150 represents thousands of public employees who work for state agencies and municipal governments around North Carolina. At the heart of the Complaint is North Carolina General Statute 95-98, which makes it illegal for the State, counties, cities or any political subdivisions of the State, to enter into contracts or agreements with any labor union or other bargaining agent. UE contends that this violates UN Conventions 87 (Freedom of Association and the Right to Organize), 98 (Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively), and 151 (Right of Public Workers to Organize, and Conditions of Employment in the Public Sector). The ILO is the international body that oversees and enforces provisions of international law governing workers' rights.

"International law is clear: workers have a right to organize and to bargain collectively to protect and improve their wages and working conditions," said Robin Alexander, UE Director of International Labor Affairs. "General Statute 95-98 flies in the face of that, specifically denying those basic rights to the people who provide services to North Carolina taxpayers. The governments of the United States and the State of North Carolina owe workers the protections of international law, and have failed to deliver. UE wants them to answer for their failures."

The delegation delivering the complaint to the Governor included labor leaders from North Carolina, Virginia, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont and Pennsylvania, as well as from Canada, Mexico and Japan. Canada, Mexico and Japan are the top three consumers of exports from North Carolina.

"What better time than International Human Rights Days to remind the State of North Carolina that its employees have the same rights as any other workers," said UE Director of Organizing Robert Kingsley. "And what better way than bringing the State's biggest trading partners to the table."

UE is a 68-year old independent rank-and-file union representing more than 30,000 workers in manufacturing, the public sector and the non-profit sector throughout the United States. The union is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa. UE Local 150 represents workers employed by the state Department of Health and Human Services, the University of North Carolina system, the state Department of Administration and for municipal governments in Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Durham, Raleigh and Rocky Mount.

For more information, contact:

Robin Alexander, UE International Labor Affairs Director, (412) 716-1696

Ashaki Binta, International Worker Justice Campaign Coordinator, (919) 593-7558

Polly Halfkenny, UE General Counsel, (412) 471-8919