06/23/13 — Employees from across eastern N.C. come to city to rally for better conditions

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Employees from across eastern N.C. come to city to rally for better conditions

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on June 23, 2013 1:50 AM

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Inell Smith talks about the racism she has faced at her job as a nurse during a Southern Workers Assembly forum to discuss the condition in the work place that North Carolinians face at Rebuilding Broken Places in Goldsboro.


Awake, stand up for the cause.

That was the message of the Workers Speak-Out forum hosted by the Southern Workers Assembly on Saturday.

And that cause is fighting against legislation spearheaded by the Republican-led state Legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory.

Workers in and around the Wayne County area came to speak at Rebuilding Broken Places Community Development Center about their work experiences and how existing and forthcoming legislation could affect them at their jobs.

A large portion of the gathering of about 25 people was a part of UE Local 150, the North Carolina public service workers union.

The event kicked off just before 1:30 p.m. with a video about the "Moral Monday" protests being held weekly at the Legislature. The next protest, set for Monday, is expected to be based on unions and worker's rights.

A panel of leaders listened to the workers and asked them questions about their situations.

On the panel were Goldsboro City Councilman Michael Headen, members of the county and state NAACP, and state Sen. Don Davis.

"We need a better raise. We haven't had no raise since 2008," said Regina Washington, who works at the Caswell Development Center for people with intellectual disabilities in Kinston. "They're voting on giving the rich more money and that's a no-no."

Ms. Washington said she is against tax breaks for the rich and also against lowering child benefits from $1,500 to $1,000 per child, saying the lawmaker are going to give the rich that money.

She ran her finger down a list of upcoming bills passed out at the forum, ticking off why each one is a bad idea.

Janice Scanes of Goldsboro read her poem, "Awake, Stand Up For The Cause," before workers came up to speak. Ms. Scanes is a member of the UE Local 150 union and works at Cherry Hospital as a health care technician.

In her poem, she warned that the state Republican Party is trying to suppress the vote of the people and wants to take away their civil rights.

Several people spoke about their work conditions and troubles with their employers and took questions from the panel.

Members of the panel lauded the importance of the Affordable Care Act to middle- to low-class workers and decried the state's blocking the federal expansion of Medicaid to 500,000 residents.

Davis spoke at the end of the event, saying that Democrats in the Legislature are listening and fighting for them.

"We are yelling, I assure you. Part of the problem is the media is not covering it," Davis said.

He said the current majority in the Legislature is a "group who would rather have your pastor carry a concealed weapon than have you vote."