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Durham, N.C. City
Workers Affiliate
With UE


The newspaper photo speaks volumes of worker determination: Some 50 resolute municipal employees carry signs that read: "Fairness for City Workers" as they surround the beleaguered city manager.

Welcome UE’s latest members.

In balloting completed the week of May 10, the nearly 100 members of the Durham City Workers Union voted overwhelmingly to affiliate with UE.


The union represents close to 1,000 municipal employees who collect garbage, maintain the streets, staff offices and perform dozens of other duties that make the city government run. They have been organized for more than 40 years; led by Pres. Nathanette Mayo, a veteran labor and civil rights activist, they chose to leave a do-nothing union.

The Durham City Workers are now part of UE Local 150, the North Carolina Public Service Workers’ Union, a growing and exciting statewide movement. The founding meeting of the North Carolina Public Service Workers’ Union took place in their local union hall, and they have supported the work of Local 150 since its inception.


Like other public sector workers in North Carolina, the Durham municipal employees are denied the right to bargain collectively and strike. The state’s anti-labor laws may have slowed down but have in no way stopped the Durham city workers. They have dues check-off and a system of "meet and confer" with city management. State law outlaws collective bargaining agreements, but the Durham workers’ union has achieved memoranda of understanding.

As a result of the legal restrictions, the Durham workers have a fighting history of using political activism to impact city government to achieve their goals. The union has been involved in city elections and frequently raises the public profile of city worker issues through demonstrations and public forums. In support of the union’s ongoing "Workers Want Fairness" campaign, workers picketed City Hall this past fall and winter.

Union members speak to neighborhood associations, churches and clubs. Union members and supporters even use yard signs to raise their "Workers Want Fairness" demands.


Key issues in the "Workers Want Fairness" campaign are pay and compensation, dignity and respect, protection of health and safety, and correction of insufficient staffing, unresponsive management and abusive supervisors.

By affiliating with UE, Durham city workers hope to achieve a stronger union, through development of a strategic plan, leadership training and an organizing plan; a stronger voice, through alliance with UE Local 150, a political action plan, organizing outreach, an expanded public campaign and involvement with UE; and tools to get the job done, through assistance of UE staff in the National office and in North Carolina.

The Durham City Workers’ Union was assisted in its affiliation campaign by UE Field Org. Saladin Muhammad.

UE News - 06/99

Home -> UE News -> 1999 Archives -> Article

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