- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Democratic National Committee’s pledge to use union contractors at its 2012 convention in Charlotte, N.C., is getting pushback from Republican state lawmakers who say the practice is undercutting local companies.

The North Carolina House last week passed a nonbinding resolution asking the DNC to change its rules and to give hiring priority to state companies, regardless of whether they are a union shop.

The measure calls on the DNC to “refrain form hiring workers and companies from outside (North Carolina) when qualified business or workers are available within the state.” The resolution was spurred on by a complaint from a North Carolina printing company that complained the DNC passed it over in favor of an out-of-state business.

“I think it’s only fitting that Tar Heel workers at least have the opportunity to benefit,” said state Rep. David Lewis, a Republican and the resolution’s sponsor.

The DNC, in its agreement with the Charlotte host committee, has promised to use union labor in the North Carolina region whenever possible.

The DNC convention committee so far has awarded three contracts to six firms totaling $7 million - but only one went to a unionized firm, the News and Observer newspaper of Raleigh, N.C., reported last week.

North Carolina is a “right-to-work” state, which means workers legally can’t be required to join a union to get a job. Only 3.2 percent of the state’s workforce belonged to a union in 2010 - the lowest percentage in the nation, according to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The vote mostly followed party lines - just nine Democrats joined all the chamber’s Republicans in passing the resolution 75-42 - and House Democrats said the toothless measure was a waste of time.

“We’ve hired people in Charlotte. We’re doing a good job,” Democratic state Rep. Becky Carney said to Republicans during a floor debate on the measure. “Why are we doing this? I would not do this to your party’s convention.”

The North Carolina Democratic Party called the resolution a political stunt.

“The fact is, the Democratic National Convention will provide a significant economic impact to Charlotte and the state,” NCDP Chairman David Parker said. “The convention and host committees have already made local hiring a top priority, as evidenced by the local firms that have already received contracts.”

The DNC convention committee also disputed a GOP accusation that it was outsourcing contracts to vendors outside North Carolina because it prefers to do business only with unionized companies.

“The Democratic National Convention Committee and the host committee have repeatedly stated that while they intend to use union labor to the extent it is available in the region, hiring local workers is a top priority,” said a statement from the North Carolina Democratic Party.

This article was based in part on wire-service reports.