On Labor Day, what's wrong with labor in North Carolina? | News

On Labor Day, what's wrong with labor in North Carolina?


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Labor Day's come and gone. If you listen to some economists, so has the recession. But many are probably wondering when that message will get to them and their paychecks. 

Over the holiday weekend, the left-leaning nonprofit N.C. Justice Center released a scathing report on the state of North Carolina labor. Key points?

The unionization rate of N.C. workers is now just 1.9 percent, the lowest in the country. More than 60 percent of workers in the state are without employer pension plans. About 1.2 million workers do not have paid sick leave. More than 11 percent of the labor force is part-time right now, despite wanting a full-time position. And, perhaps most troublingly, wages have fallen more than 5 percent during the recession recovery, despite worker productivity rising by about 3 percent.

"Having a job is no longer a guarantee of financial security because increasingly jobs no longer provide the wages, benefits, and opportunities for upward advancement that make it possible for workers to make ends meet," the Justice Center report states. "As a result, the ongoing debate about how many jobs have been created in North Carolina over the past year misses an important assessment of how the economy affects workers, their families and the broader community: how good are the jobs that have been created?"

The report urges state policy makers to focus on attracting jobs that pay a living wage, offer sick leave, support affordable health insurance, allow collective bargaining and offer a retirement plan. 

Labor will be key in the 2016 elections. With the recession dwindling and unemployment at a relatively stable 5.9 percent , politicians will be expected to prove the campaign promises they made, particularly when it comes to the quality of jobs being offered in North Carolina.

It's no coincidence that Republicans and Democrats pounded this issue across the country over the weekend, with the president suggesting that even Tom Brady is benefitting from having a labor union. Mr. President, with all due respect, that's a good way to ensure that every single person south of Boston vehemently opposes unions. 


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