The selection of Charlotte for the 2012 Democratic National Convention will bring hundreds of temporary jobs to the nation's least unionized state, raising questions about organized labor's role in the event.
Some national unions are criticizing the party, which has close labor ties, for its choice. But locally, labor leaders are pleased that the convention will bring jobs and spotlight their efforts.
Last week, Rick Sloan of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers called Charlotte's selection a "calculated affront." In response, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx has said the labor movement, a key historical ally of the Democrats, is not forgotten and may be pleasantly surprised by what is proposed.
"It's not a secret that the DNC has a strong labor component to how they carry these conventions out," Foxx told the Observer. "How that looks going forward will be the product of a lot of work to develop a plan."
And this has some local business leaders worried.
They wonder whether outside union employees will be brought in for jobs such as working on the arena, which needs seats removed and raised platforms built. They wonder whether convention workers may lose overtime opportunities.
They fear unions will aggressively court new members.
"People are thinking that we may be low-hanging fruit," said Kenny Colbert, president of The Employers Association, a human resources consulting group. "There are some companies that are very susceptible around here."
Because the city has so few unionized workers — perhaps 3 percent — it's unclear how much of the pie labor unions can expect to grab. Roughly 3.5 percent of North Carolina workers are unionized.
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