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5 Things To Know: North Carolina Workers Call for Safer Workplaces

...and four more stories from Feb. 13-19, 2022

North Carolina workers
Workers demand safer work conditions at a previous rally unrelated to Wednesday’s day of action by North Carolina workers. (Photo courtesy of NC Justice Center)

North Carolina Workers Call for Safer Workplaces

Members of the Southern Workers Assembly joined dozens of unions, North Carolina workers, and community organizations to organize rallies around the state Wednesday with demands to keep workers safe. Actions ranged from wearing stickers on the job to workplace rallies, press conferences and more.

Organizers cited the recent deaths of a light-rail operator in Charlotte and an Amazon worker in Garner as cause for the rallies. While actions in Charlotte mostly included workers wearing stickers to show solidarity with the campaign, there were rallies at the North Carolina State University Chancellor’s Office in Raleigh, an Amazon delivery station in Durham, and at Pack Square in Asheville. 

“Employers and the NC Department of Labor are not moving to implement emergency standards to keep workers safe,” read a release from the Southern Workers Assembly on Thursday. 

North Carolina workers across the state made the following demands: 

  • Hazard pay
  • Universal paid sick leave
  • Universal healthcare/Medicare for all
  • Employer-provided N95 masks each day
  • Required masking on public transit, public schools, and at public events
  • Required testing before returning to work after quarantine or positive test
  • Free weekly testing
  • Social distancing enforced by employers
  • Enforced and timely contract tracing and communication
  • Sanitation of workstations and work vehicles
  • Employers to share testing rates weekly at work locations
  • Protect and expand the right to form and join a union

While the Mecklenburg County mask mandate is set to expire on Feb. 26, workers on Wednesday emphasized the importance to keep safety measures in place at the workplace. 

“On my job, it’s important to be safe,” stated Delores Sobowale with the Charlotte chapter of the National Domestic Workers Alliance’s We Dream in Black organization. “In this pandemic, we have to follow safety guidelines and procedures to save our lives like washing our hands, getting vaccinated, and frequent testing. I want to live life, not lose it.”


Mecklenburg County Releases 2022 Pulse Report

After presenting its results to county commissioners in January, the Mecklenburg County Strategic Planning and Evaluation in partnership with Mecklenburg County Geographic Information System (GIS) released the full 2022 Mecklenburg County Pulse Report on Friday. 

The annual report covers notable trends within Mecklenburg County between 2010 to 2020, how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the trajectory of those trends, and any new trends that have emerged since 2020. It also explains what these trends may mean for county policies and services in the future, according to a release from the county. 

Some highlights from the report include:

  • Demographics: a 21.3% increase in population from 2010 to 2020, moving Mecklenburg County from 49th to 41st most populated county in the country.
  • Health: a 1,728% increase in overdose deaths attributed to “Other Synthetic Narcotics” from 2014-2017, and a 1,071% increase in cocaine-related overdose deaths from 2010-2019.
  • Housing: From 2010 to 2020, there was a 92% increase in the median single-family home sales price in Mecklenburg County, making it harder for lower income and first-time homebuyers to purchase in the market. 
  • Environment and Infrastructure: Expansion of the road network in Mecklenburg County will likely lead to higher population density in suburbs and a decrease in urban population density. This will decrease the effectiveness of road-based public transport and increase car ownership resulting in congestion. 
  • Economy: The number of job advertisements in 2021 indicates a substantial recovery from the sharp drop in 2020.   

Six Traffic-Related Deaths Recorded in Charlotte

Charlotte saw six people killed due to traffic-related incidents this week, a discouraging stretch for a city actively working to minimize traffic deaths. Five people were killed after being struck by cars this week, including two women killed while walking near East W.T. Harris Boulevard on Tuesday after an alleged drunk driver caused a crash that sent another car careening into them. 

At approximately 2:48 p.m. on Tuesday, officers responded to a call for service involving two vehicles and two pedestrians on E. W.T. Harris Boulevard. Upon arrival, officers located a 2019 Dodge Ram and a 2008 Honda Civic with severe damage involved in a crash, along with two pedestrians that were struck due to this collision.

 

The drivers of both vehicles were uninjured and remained on the scene. One of the pedestrians, 75-year-old Enedina Fernandez, was pronounced dead by Medic on scene. The other pedestrian, 23-year-old Nabila Rasoul, was transported to the hospital by Medic and died shortly after arrival.

The preliminary investigation revealed that the Honda Civic, operated by James Payne, was speeding on Harris Boulevard when he swerved out of his lane and struck the rear of the Dodge Ram pickup. The Dodge then hit the curb and began to overturn along the sidewalk where the two pedestrian victims were walking. The Dodge struck the pedestrians, and the Honda continued skidding and came to final rest on Harris Boulevard before Payne parked it in a nearby parking lot.

Payne was screened for impairment and was deemed impaired by an officer of the DWI Task Force. He also reportedly had a juvenile occupant in the vehicle at the time of the wreck who was uninjured. Payne was arrested and charged with two counts of felony death by motor vehicle, DWI, reckless driving, and misdemeanor child abuse. He was also charged for having an open container of an alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle and various other traffic offenses.


First Tenant of Elizabeth Development Announced

Red Mountain Management, the team behind The Crunkleton and Cheat’s Cheesesteak Parlor, announced its newest venture on Friday, with Rosemont Market & Wine Bar becoming the first tenant announced as part of the upcoming mixed-use development Elizabeth on Seventh.

Rosemont Market & Wine Bar, Elizabeth on Seventh
A photo of the Elizabeth on Seventh construction as of January. (Photo courtesy of Crescent Communities)

According to a release sent out Friday, Rosemont Market and Wine Bar will offer breakfast, lunch, coffee, wine, and beer, plus full-service dinner, market items, catering capabilities, and grab-and-go meals. Rosemont will feature more than 60 indoor-dining seats and 40+ more on the patio, with approximately half of the space dedicated to the market.

In the release, Blake Thompson of Red Mountain Management pointed out that the Rosemont name comes from the Elizabeth subdivision that faces Elizabeth on 7th across North Caswell Road. 


Homicide Total Nearly Doubles in a Week

Three people were killed in Charlotte this week, including a mother who was murdered in a reported domestic violence incident, resulting in a search for her child. At around 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, police responded to a check-the-welfare call on Swan Drive in northwest Charlotte and found 27-year-old Jaqusica Wilson dead from an apparent gunshot wound.

CMPD later issued an Amber Alert tied to the murder, calling for residents to look for Wilson’s 3-year-old daughter, believed to be with her father. Police later found both the daughter and the father, who was charged with Wilson’s murder. 

 

Just before 7 p.m. on Sunday, police responded to an injury call between Marita Drive and the North 485 interloop near Mount Holly Road. Responding officers found a car off the road and on fire. They removed the person inside and began lifesaving efforts, but the victim, 27-year-old Jamil Trout, was pronounced dead upon the arrival of Medic. 

Just after 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, police responded to a shooting call on LaSalle Street, where they found 27-year-old Adam Bittle inside a car suffering from a gunshot wound. Medic pronounced Bittle dead at the scene. This week’s murders nearly doubled the total number of homicides in Charlotte this year from four to seven. 


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