While thousands of North Carolina residents rally in opposition, the state legislature continues to push an extremist agenda that will harm the Tar Heel State's working families. The latest outrage is H.B. 74, which is targeted directly at the rights of not only workers, but local governments. A special section of the bill contains a giveaway to large agricultural manufacturers that would provide them a shield against farm workers organizing and bargaining for better rights. A separate bill, that has been a key target of "Moral Monday" protests, would make it harder for North Carolina residents to vote, creating the most restrictive voter suppression law in the country.
The H.B. 74 bill also would prohibit city and county governments from establishing paid sick leave or living wage requirements for government contractors. This would directly impact existing living wage ordinances in Durham and Asheville.
Living wage laws help increase the likelihood that taxpayers' dollars are spent in the community and pave an economic high road that improves the living standards of workers and their communities, rather than subsidizing low-wage employment. Absent wage standards, contractors often compete for public contracts by cutting wages to the bare bones and by refusing to invest in worker training and other productivity-enhancing measures that also can lower overall costs. These laws also level the playing field by preventing employers from undercutting competitors by harming workers.
More than 80% of low-wage workers lack access to even one paid sick day a year. This means that many workers face a choice of giving up wages or going to work sick, creating a public health hazard.
The falsely titled "Agricultural Right to Work" provision in the bill would create several obstacles for farm workers seeking to organize and win supply chain agreements, particularly by preventing large agricultural manufacturers from guaranteeing labor rights in their supply chain through contracts with growers. Farm workers already are denied almost every labor protection under the law and this bill would further harm them. The Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) says that the provision is a direct attack on attempts to get the state's tobacco giants to sign an agreement guaranteeing workers throughout the supply chain the right to freedom of association.
North Carolina residents can take action right away to fight these extreme measures:
- Call your representatives and urge them to oppose the ban on local paid sick leave and living wage ordinances.
- Send an e-mail in opposition to the attack on farm worker rights.
- Sign this petition to stop the worst voter suppression bill in the nation from passing in North Carolina.