South Carolina is Another Front in the Battle for Workers’ Rights

by NALC Legislation and Political Action

A story in Saturday’s Aiken (SC) Standard notes how Gov. Nikki Haley isn’t exactly a fan of organized labor.

The article notes that there are nearly 60,000 union workers in the Palmetto State, including hundreds of letter carriers. But in her “State of the State” address in January, Haley boldly announced that “[w]e’ll make the unions understand full well that they are not needed, not wanted and not welcome in the State of South Carolina.”

Given Haley’s past history with unions—she sided with Boeing in its recent battle against the National Labor Relations Board—her remarks should come as no surprise. But they stung nonetheless.

And she’s been on something of a tear recently. The Standard notes that in one of her first news conferences in 2012, Haley blasted unions and touted an executive order she signed denying unemployment pay for striking workers—an unnecessary slap at labor, considering how South Carolina law already bans such payments (never mind that state officials have trouble recalling the last time there was a strike in South Carolina).

Joe Shelley, who works in the safety department of the Capstone Paper plant in Charleston, decided to join a union his first week on the job in 2005. He told the paper that he doesn’t appreciate the governor and state leaders making him feel persecuted for a choice he thinks is best for him and his family. “We want corporations to be successful, too,” he said. “If we get them to the point where they don’t make money, we’re not going to have a job.”

South Carolina, the paper notes, is the second-least unionized state in the country, and it ranked 45th in the nation in per capita income in 2010. Draw your own conclusions there.

Take a deep breath first, then click here to read more about Haley’s attacks—and how union workers in South Carolina are fighting back.


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