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5 Things to Know: Coalition of Labor Groups to Mobilize Before Elections

...and four more stories from Sept. 11-17, 2022

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Labor groups hold signs reading "Unions for All" standing in front of the traffic control tower at Charlotte Douglas International Airport
Labor groups with Airport Workers United, an organizing campaign from the Service Employees International Union, took part in a National Day of Action on March 30. (Photo courtesy of SEIU)

Coalition of Labor Groups to Mobilize Before Elections

U.S. Rep. Alma Adams and members of Charlotte City Council will join the Metropolitan Charlotte Assembly this morning at St. Paul Baptist Church in north Charlotte’s Villa Heights neighborhood to announce a massive mobilization in support of the labor movement in the lead-up to the November elections.

The coalition of labor unions, churches, and community groups plans to knock on more than 100,000 doors to canvass for candidates who support the creation of good union jobs at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport as well as affordable housing, education reform, and economic policies that benefit Charlotte’s working class. Airport workers, Starbucks baristas and home-care workers will also share their stories about their fight to unionize their workplaces.

 “I can’t support my family on what I earn. Even working 65 hours a week, my rent is sometimes late,” said Shonda Barber, a single mother and trash-truck driver at JetStream, which empties the trash from American Airlines flights. “There’s no respect for our hard work. If we don’t take the trash off, the passengers can’t get on and the planes can’t take off on time. We need airlines to step up and make sure we earn enough so we can support our families.”

The labor group’s priorities include unionizing airport workers at the Charlotte International Airport, a top economic engine in North Carolina that contributes close to $25 billion to the local economy and produces almost 170,000 jobs.

labor groups rally at Charlotte Douglas International Airport holding signs that read "Unions for All"
The labor groups are calling on airlines to pay their contracted workers a living wage and provide life-saving benefits like paid time off and health insurance. (Photo courtesy of SEIU)

According to a press release put out by the Charlotte Metrolina Assembly in the lead-up to Saturday’s announcement, many of the airport workers — including wheelchair agents, cabin cleaners, ramp agents and others, a majority of which are contracted workers for American Airlines — say they earn poverty wages and have few if any benefits. Others say they are understaffed and overworked and complain of poor working conditions, including being given only a few minutes to clean planes and having little access to drinking water.

The Metropolitan Charlotte Assembly is a newly formed alliance of more than 20 labor organizations, churches, community groups and neighborhood associations that aims to change Charlotte politics so that all residents have the right to organize, living-wage employment, excellent education, safe communities, and affordable housing, according to the release. 


No One Harmed in Police Shooting

CMPD officers shot at a man who ditched a stolen vehicle in north Charlotte’s Washington Heights neighborhood on Thursday afternoon, but nobody was struck or injured in the incident. According to CMPD’s version of events, officers attempted a traffic stop on the vehicle shortly after 5 p.m., and the driver fled from the car on foot from Onyx Street.

Officers say the suspect was holding a gun, and while he fired no shots, the officers later claimed to have “perceived a lethal threat” and opened fire on him, Deputy Chief Coerte Voorhees said from the scene on Thursday. The suspect was not struck and he soon surrendered along with the three other occupants in the car. 

Following an investigation by the department’s homicide division, the 18-year-old driver was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, fleeing to elude, and resisting officers. Two juveniles were also charged with possession of a firearm by a minor.


StarMed Announces Partnership with Latin American Coalition

In the lead-up to this weekend’s Hola Charlotte Latin American Festival, StarMed Healthcare announced this week a new partnership with the Latin American Coalition to make health care more affordable and accessible to the Latin American community in Charlotte. 

According to a release sent out on Thursday, the partnership will consist of three parts: 

  • Newcomer assistance: StarMed will provide basic medical services to help ease the transition for asylees and refugees by providing physical exams, vaccinations and other health care needs, including behavioral health services. 
  • Membership: StarMed will offer affordable health care to Hispanic-Latino families with savings on self-pay services for all Latin American Coalition members.
  • Community Outreach: StarMed is sponsoring the 32nd annual Hola Charlotte Latin American Festival, hosted by the Latin American Coalition today at Symphony Park in Charlotte, and representatives will be on hand to promote the company’s health-care services.
The Latin American Coalition headquarters
The Latin American Coalition is headquartered on Central Avenue in east Charlotte. (Photo courtesy of LAC)

Since May, the Latin American Coalition has assisted nearly 1,500 people in immigrant families — more than 500 of whom are children — who have arrived directly from detention centers in Texas. They often arrive with no money or shelter and only the clothes they’re wearing.

“We are excited to be able to help the Latin community’s health-care needs, especially the immigrants who have arrived in Charlotte facing serious issues,” said Dr. Michael Estramonte, Starmount Healthcare Management president and founder, in Friday’s release. “We want to help ease their transition and make Latin American Coalition members know that we’re here to serve them, too. Our organization’s goal is to provide premium health care to those who often face barriers.”


County Increases Access to Monkeypox Vaccine

Despite decreasing rates of the virus around the county, Mecklenburg County Public Health is moving to increase monkeypox vaccine access and availability by offering more walk-in appointments, according to a release from MCPH on Thursday. Health department clinics will move to walk-in appointments for the monkeypox vaccine for those who are eligible after three women recently tested positive in the county.

“While the number of newly confirmed cases has started to decline, we now have three unconnected women who’ve tested positive for monkeypox,” said MCPH Director Raynard Washington. “We want to make sure people who may be at risk can just walk into our clinics and get the vaccine.”

The vaccine is being offered at no cost to adults 18 years of age and older who self-identify as high-risk according to any of the following criteria: 

  • Anyone who had close contact in the past two weeks with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox. 
  • Sexually active gay or bisexual men or other men or transgender individuals who have sex with men or transgender individuals. 
  • People who have had sexual contact in the past 90 days with gay or bisexual men or other men or transgender individuals who have sex with men. 
  • People living with HIV, taking medication to prevent HIV (PrEP), or who were diagnosed with syphilis in the past 90 days. 

MCPH clinics located at 2845 Beatties Ford Road and 249 Billingsley Road are open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., except Wednesday when they are open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. 


Job Numbers Up in NC

There’s encouraging news from the latest North Carolina labor market data following good news from the U.S. Census Bureau this week that showed 30,000 fewer North Carolina children experienced poverty last year compared to 2019 and the real median income went up, according to the NC Budget & Tax Center (NCBTC)

North Carolina has continued to add jobs over the past few months and more people are rejoining the labor market. Even after four interest rate hikes this year and the market bracing for another round later this month, around 145,000 jobs have been created in North Carolina in 2022 and almost 200,000 in the past twelve months, according to Patrick McHugh, research manager with NCBTC.

 

"It's been a pretty good week; poverty figures showed federal aid and stimulus helped to reduce child poverty and speed an economic recovery last year," said McHugh, Research Manager with the NC Budget & Tax Center.

"We also have seen consumers get a reprieve from inflation over the past few months, even as job growth remains strong. None of this dispels concerns, however, over how we manage inflation without tipping the United States into a recession, nor erases the need to help people struggling to connect with the labor force, but it's still encouraging to see several positive economic signals."


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