The Rev. William Barber, speaking at a Labor Day rally in Charlotte, called on workers and civil rights groups to work hand-in-hand to elect pro-union lawmakers to the North Carolina legislatures.
Calling the current Republican-controlled legislature hostile to workers, Barber said that without labor unions, American workers would not have a 40-hour work week, minimum wage, paid vacations and a host of other workplace benefits and protections.
“We owe so much to labor unions,” he said.
Barber, who heads the state NAACP and the “Moral Monday” movement, made those remarks to about 300 people who gathered in Marshall Park in uptown Charlotte.
He said politicians who have opposed labor unions and civil rights have deployed a “Southern strategy” too keep the two movements politically separated.
“If labor and civil rightsget together the right way, that’s the formula for transforming America, he said. “That’s the formula for transforming the South and transforming the nation.”
Barber also called on those in attendance to work between now and the November election to register new voters, noting that low voter turnout in 2010 led to the GOP takeover of the North Carolina legislature.
“I tell you, we must stay together. We must march together. We must pray together. We must stand together. We must go to jail together. We must go to court together. And we must vote together,” he said. "If we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now We’ve got to mobilize There is no such thing as an off-year election."