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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 64/No. 35September 18, 2000

UNITE members join Charlotte Labor Day
Photo - see caption below 
Recently organized members of UNITE garment and textile union marched in Labor Day parade in Charlotte, North Carolina.
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina--Some 700 unionists marched in the second annual Labor Day parade here. Garment and textile, electrical, and auto workers marched, together with machinists, painters, firefighters, musicians, and communications workers.

Among the demonstrators were several contingents of Steelworkers, including members of Local 850 who last year after a 12-month battle pushed back concessions demanded by Continental General Tire.

Chanting, "We have arrived!" about a dozen members of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees marched proudly in the parade. Last June, culminating a 25-year campaign, workers succeeded in organizing a union at the sprawling Fieldcrest Cannon mill complex in Kannapolis and neighboring Concord.

Paulette Johnson, a 20-year veteran in the plant who is a folder operator and union shop steward at Fieldcrest Cannon, spoke to the Militant along with Terri Clark, a towel sewing inspector, and Patrice Moore, a weaving machine operator. They explained that workers are proud of their victory and their morale is high. "They cannot take advantage of us and use favoritism to divide us," Clark explained. "They just can't go and lay off or fire people they don't like. And if someone gets fired we now have a way to fight to get their job back."

Moore, who operates 10 weaving machines, said, "These jobs can be very difficult. Before we won the union if a worker was having difficulty with a job the supervisor could use that to get rid of them if they didn't like the person. In that kind of situation now a worker can come to the steward and the union can work together to get them on a job they can do. We are also involved in efficiency ratings. This can determine your pay. In the past it was just the supervisor's word as to what your efficiency was. They cheated workers in this way."

Johnson explained, "Progress has been made to cut down racial discrimination in the plant. Now everyone is paid the same wage for the particular job they do." She added, "We will be back even stronger next year."

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