CDC Workers to Mark 20th Anniversary of Struggle That Won Martin Luther King Holiday

January 5, 2010

For workers at Cummins Rocky Mount Engine Plant (formerly Consolidated Diesel Co.), Martin Luther King Day 2010 marks an anniversary of one of their own struggles. It was 20 years ago that employees in the plant circulated a petition calling on company to grant workers a paid holiday for King Day. The petition was presented to management on January 15, 1990. Following another eight months of struggle by the workers, CDC management announced on August 1, 1990 that it would grant the new paid holiday.  

The CDC Workers Unity Committee was organized through this petition campaign, and joined with the Bloomer Hill Community Association, the African American community adjacent to the CDC plant, to sponsor an annual MLK Day Celebration at Bloomer Hill Community Center. This year will be the 20th annual event.

CDC Workers Unity Committee affiliated with UE in 1994. In 2001, CDC Workers Unity Committee joined with UE workers in-shop committee at the Vermont American plant in Greenville to form Carolina Auto, Aerospace & Machine Workers Union (CAAMWU). Both groups are non-majority unions that fight for workers’ interests on the job and which are supported by members’ voluntary dues payments, but which have not yet achieved NLRB certification or collective bargaining agreements. In 2003, UE granted CAAMWU a charter as chapter of North Carolina’s statewide UE Local 150.

Keynote speaker at this year’s MLK Day on Jan. 18 at Bloomer Hill will be Melvin Maclin, vice president of UE Local 1110 in Chicago and one of the leaders of the December 2008 plant occupation at Republic Windows and Doors. The theme of this year’s MLK Day events in Whitakers is “We Have Come Too Far to Turn Back Now.”

For more information about the event, contact Jim Wrenn at jimwrenn@embarqmail.com.

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