Image of Ramon, who helps out with a Know Your Rights training session.
Ramon Zepeda

Foreign-born farmworkers are vital to the American food system. But while most of the produce that ends up on American plates is handpicked, the day-to-day lives of people laboring in the fields still remains more or less invisible. Ramón Zepeda is a 28-year-old working to change visibility of farmworkers.He grew up in a small farming community in Jalisco, Mexico. Most of his family members have spent time in the fields, and he has devoted his life to working in solidarity with underrepresented workers.

Protesters crowd the capitol for a Moral Mondays protest.
Matthew Lenard

A report from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks North Carolina at the bottom nationally for labor union membership. 1.9 percent of workers in the state were in unions last year. That's down from 3 percent.

That doesn't surprise James Andrews, the president of the North Carolina AFL-CIO.

Andrews says North Carolina is a "right to work" state which doesn't give unions much clout, so they don't invest much organizing energy or money here.

Fast Food Workers
Leoneda Inge

Fast food workers in North Carolina rallied Thursday in support of a $15-an-hour minimum wage.  As in New York City, Detroit and Chicago, some workers chose civil disobedience.

Fast food workers came from Charlotte, Raleigh and other cities to lock arms with workers in Durham.  And at lunch time, right in the middle of Morgan Street, across from a McDonald’s, dozens of demonstrators sat down, and chanted.

“We can’t survive on $7.25! We can’t survive on $7.25!”

Photo of corner of Trust and Belief from News and Observer's Contracted to Cheat series.

A yearlong investigative report by The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer documents that North Carolina has lost nearly a half-billion dollars each year uncollected state and federal tax revenue from the misclassification of workers. 

Just Economics is trying to get a living wage for working class in Western North Carolina.

  The Asheville nonprofit Just Economics has been pushing for local businesses to pay a living wage. 

Keith Ludlum is the president of UFCW local 1208 and led the charge for unions in North Carolina slaughterhouses.


In 2008, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union and Smithfield Foods in Tar Heel, NC reached an agreement to end a 16-year fight for better worker conditions. 

Amy Laura Hall has organized the Labor Sabbath movement in North Carolina.

Some North Carolinians cringe at the phrase ‘labor union.’ 

In the right to work state, some opponents say unions cause harm to private businesses and do not benefit workers. This weekend in churches, synagogues and other holy places some clergy will talk about unions as part of a Labor Sabbath movement.  

In the Meantime Temporality and Cultural Politics / Duke University Press


The idea that the world is getting faster is fairly common claim but what does that really mean?  How does our perception of time affect our bodies and our communities? Sarah Sharma, professor of media and cultural studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, examines how labor changes the way people experience time. 

An employee performs quality control on clothing made at the Mortex textile mill in Wendell, North Carolina
USDAgov, via Flickr


For decades, the textile industry was an essential part of North Carolina’ economy. But the industry took a huge hit in the early 2000s due to outsourcing and high rates of automation.

Teachers demonstrate Monday morning outside Riverside High School in Durham
Dave DeWitt


This week, North Carolina teachers protested funding shortages in the education system by staging walk-ins across the state.

Many were upset by budget cuts that affect instruction for the state’s more than 1.5 million students. Host Frank Stasio talks to North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson about the plight facing the state’s K-12 education system.