2018 47th CBTU International Convention Call

January 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to issue the official convention call to the 47th International Convention of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU). The convention will be held in Orlando, Florida at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace, 1900 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830 from May 23-28, 2018. The theme is "47 Years Strong, From Surviving to Thriving". All general convention sessions will be held at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace.

We must continue to build and advance this movement in the face of some of the toughest opposition and most racist antics seen in decades. This convention will focus on the things that made CBTU successful for so many years, civic engagement and mobilization. Our agenda is busy as I have outlined below.

Pre-convention sessions begin Tuesday, May 22nd. We will be offering Leadership Training. This is for CBTU Leadership looking to advance their skills, chapters and their regions. We will also be offering Common Sense Economics - Train the Trainer. This training will empower members on how to explain and breakdown the economy. Special Registration is required for both.

Wednesday, May 23rd Bill Fletcher Jr., has agreed once again to host a dynamic session entitled:"Right-Wing Populism in the USA: How to Understand It; How to Fight It." Special Registration is required.

The general convention begins Thursday, May 24th where we will outline the visions and projects CBTU wil be underaking. May 25-27th will be our sessions that focus on specific issues impacting our community and different methods of resistance utilized to make positive change.

CBTU has grown from a small collection of leaders to a powerful voice for Black workers. The movement needs to hear us more now than ever and I ask you to join us as we lay out our strategic plan moving forward.

Registration for the 2018 convention can be donw online or you may download forms at www.cbtu.org.

Should you have any questions or need additional information, please call the CBTU International office at 202-778-3318 or email us at cbtu@cbtu.org. See you in Orlando.

In Solidarity,

Rev. Terrence L. Melvin, President


Racist President Disparages Black and Latino Countries


CBTU & APRI Statement on Trumps Comments on Haiti, El Salvador, and Africa


Statement by Rev. Terry Melvin & Clayola Brown

President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists & A. Phillip Randolph Institute

On Thursday, January 11, the 45th President reaffirmed his white supremacist and racist stance. In an Oval Office meeting it was reported that Trump called the nations of Haiti, El Salvador, and Africa “s—holes.” It was reported that he said “Why are we having all these people from s—hole countries come here?” Not only is this question offensive, derogatory, and inflammatory, but it also exposes his deep seeded feelings of white supremacy and racism. This is a racist president who treats foreign policy with the same respect Andrew Jackson gave Indigenous Americans.

Trump has stated he would prefer people from Norway to immigrate than those from darker nations. Why would this government take a position that Blond haired and Blue eyed Europeans should receive preferential treatment when immigrating to this country over the dark skinned? He is confirming his historical position of being racist, white supremacist, and just how he denied Blacks housing in his buildings, he is using the same practices on immigration.

While it is clear Trump is a racist what is missing is a conversation of why these countries are supposed “s—holes.” Haiti was once a thriving and prosperous country with a bounty of resources. After the slaves defeated the French for independence the country has been ravaged by cruel leaders propped up by foreign governments. El Salvador was getting by until they elected a Socialist President. Then their country became ravaged by civil war as the US financed and armed the opposition in the name of killing Communism. The history of African exploitation, the illicit flow of funds, and the regime building done by foreign countries is lengthy and present. All this means these countries are suffering directly by US interference but yet we are unwilling to support them. Learn the history.

The US is now a stain on the world. This president has eroded our standing with the world and is polarizing the populace. He is dangerous, racist, and a misogynist. We denounce this president and his racist ways and we call upon the Republican Party to publicly denounce this hate mongering or suffer the consequence of being considered like him. We call upon our press to demand an answer on this agenda of white supremacy and lies similar to how the Netherlands press corp demanded answers from the US diplomat for his lies. We call upon all those in the US to engage in the political process, to organize their communities, and to make sure the person in the White House does not reflect the heart and soul of our nation


Republicans Pass Tax Cuts for the Rich


CBTU President Statement on the Recent Tax Bill


Statement by Rev. Terry Melvin

President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

On Wednesday, December 20, Republicans forced a major tax bill down the throats of the citizens of the United States. While largely unpopular (over 55% of Americans oppose it), this tax bill was passed exclusively by Republicans in a process that denied Democrats a voice and will potentially add over 1 trillion dollars to the debt. Once again we find Republicans and this president uninterested in the lives of working men and women, and instead invested solely in the continued accrual of wealth by the wealthiest. This tax bill was a major overhaul that grants all the breaks and cost savings to corporations and not working people.

The only thing permanent in this tax bill is the cut to the corporate tax rate. Beyond that everything else is set to expire in 7 years. This means any gains made will be lost to the individual but not the multinational corporation. This tax bill reduces the top tax rate for the wealthiest while also removing tax credits for health insurance. This means the richest will pay lower taxes, while the sickest will pay higher premiums. This is not a help for the average American who will at best see a tax break of $1,000 while the richest will get a break of up to $50,000. Once again Republicans have catered to their base, the rich and wealthy, and have sacrificed our future and financial stability to enlarge the gap between the haves and have nots.

Under President Obama we heard how the Affordable Care Act would bankrupt the government and how he needed to be fiscally responsible. This double talk has been exposed as pure hypocrisy with the reality that over one trillion dollars will be added to the debt. Debt created to give billionaires more money, and either cut services to the public or force working men and women pay more taxes to finance these services. This does not make this country great, it drives us back to time of the Great Depression. 80% of stocks are owned by only 10% of the people. The wealth gap is too wide. Our government is deaf to the people – as proven by this tax bill and net neutrality repeal. It is time we organize to make this country work for all of us and just a few.



The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists That’s Fighting to Save the EPA

When Terry Melvin was a boy in Lackawanna, N.Y., an afternoon siren would occasionally ring out, warning the city’s mostly black residents to the avalanche of red soot that would soon explode from the mouth of Bethelem Steel and blanket the city. But before making landfall, the thick dust would build a home in the lungs of whomever toiled inside the Bethlehem plant. Read More...



Come Out to Love and Support


CBTU President Statement on National Coming Out Day


Statement by Rev. Terry Melvin

President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

Today, October 11, is National Coming Out Day. This is a joyous day meant to support and honor our brothers and sisters who for too long have been unable to be honest with their community about who they really are. On this day we want to offer our unlimited love and support to all members of the LGBT community as they take a bold step in revealing their true selves to a historically hostile and unfriendly country. CBTU salutes the courageous members of the LGBT community, those that are out, those that are coming out, and those that are still too afraid to come out. Please know we see you, we support you, and most importantly we love you.

CBTU honors and cherishes our LGBT brothers and sisters. You are our union members, our community members, and our family members. The safest place for all oppressed people to achieve equality is in their union, especially LGBT workers. As workers we can all come together, as working people can find solidarity in our struggle. On this day we want you to know we are there with you as there is no hierarchy of oppression. Your silence is our shame and when you come out we celebrate one more victory in the battle for equality. Today is your day. CBTU supports and celebrates National Coming Out Day and we ask that all Americans do the same.

CBTU, which was founded in 1972, is the largest, independent voice of more than 2.2 million African American workers in labor unions today. With more than 50 chapters in major U.S. cities and one in Ontario, Canada, CBTU is dedicated to addressing the unique concerns of black workers and their communities. CBTU is a strong supporter of low-wage workers who are fighting for respect and the right to have a voice on their jobs.

In 2007, CBTU provided critical early union support for Barack Obama’s historic campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2008, introducing him to black voters who were very skeptical then that an African American could ever reach the Oval Office. CBTU went on to galvanize tens of thousands of African American voters and union households in key states on behalf of President Obama’s victorious campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

Rev. Terry L. Melvin, who was elected to lead the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists in 2012, is also the secretary-treasurer of the powerful New York State AFL-CIO. He succeeded CBTU President Emeritus William (Bill) Lucy, the iconic labor leader who co-founded CBTU in 1972.


Worker Organizations Under Attack


CBTU President Statement on Janus v AFSCME


Statement by Rev. Terry Melvin

President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

Yesterday the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Janus v AFSCME. In another move to devolve this nation to a time of government sponsored oppression our highest court is looking to undermine our freedom of association. Our right to join an organization and reap the benefits of our membership is once again called into question. For years Blacks had to fight tooth and nail to be allowed into a union and now our victory can be undone by the Supreme Court, a court not made up of our peers. Our future is looking like our past, a time when we are not equal, are not free and are not allowed to join and support our own organizations.

Americans are members of many organizations from AAA to the PTA to the NRA. All these groups require dues payment to receive benefits and services. For instance, you cannot get AAA to tow your car without having a membership card, you cannot vote on a bake sale without being a member of the PTA and you are NOT getting the NRA newsletter without paying dues. We respect all these organizations membership rules but when it comes to workers wanting their own group, all of a sudden everybody wants a vote, member or not. Why do working men and women need the government to tell us about our organization? Why is a group built and maintained by workers allowed to be undermined by corporations and billionaires? Why when it comes to workers uniting do we allow non-members to disband our organization?

When NFL players, who are workers, kneeled together in solidarity there were calls for their termination. When whites marched with torches and Nazi flags the government said all sides have a voice. Once again when it comes to workers, especially workers of color, this government has no hesitancy to try and besmirch, disband or destroy our institutions. We as workers need to stand together and demand this government and the Supreme Court keep their hands off our organizations. CBTU opposes this case and supports worker rights. Working men and women will always fight oppression both on the job and in the streets. Janus will not stop us but will send a message that government will continue to work for corporations and not the citizens.


We Kneel with the NFL


CBTU President Statement on NFL Protest


Statement by Rev. Terry Melvin

President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

The 45th President has once again reminded America why he is divider and not a unifier. With no provocation, but poor approval ratings and global disdain, this president used the power of his office to attack NFL athletes. In the wake of his nodding support for white supremacists he chose to lash out at predominately Black athletes for them having a public opinion on a matter of personal consequence to their lives. Once again when it came time for hateful words and assaulting rhetoric the focus was on people of color and their resistance to oppression, never to the oppression they feel or the white allies they have. This is a pattern now codified by tweets, reinforcing the need for our public athletes to take a public position.

We at CBTU applaud and kneel in solidarity with our brothers in the NFL. We support the NFLPA and the owners who have come out against this president. When we marched for Civil Rights they told us we were disruptive. When we sat in the white sections on the bus and at the counters they told us we were disruptive. When we tried to get jobs and housing in their neighborhoods they told us we were disruptive. Now when we kneel to demand acknowledgement of the persistent inequality we live under, we are told we are disruptive. What is never discussed is how disruptive living like this is to us. They never imagine the cost of worrying if the cop will harass you. They never talk of the disruption when your name is mocked for being spelled or pronounced differently. They never mention the pressure every Black athlete has to endure everyday by making sure they don’t fail their people because one bad Black apple ruins the bunch.

It is interesting how when it comes to Black wealth, the more you have the more you are told racism no longer applies to you. What does the pay check of an NFL player have to do with the reality that he will still be pulled over for driving Black, he can still be shot for wearing a hoodie, his kids will still be called racial slurs in their schools? What does wealth have to do with oppression? And why should one’s wealth deny them the right to voice their opinion, to stand in solidarity with others, to demand respect for all not just themselves?

CBTU supports our NFL players and their cause. We support their right to protest and join them in the protest that this flag is not representing all of us. We call on this president to stop being hateful and instead try and listen to the other side. We call on all NFL fans to support your team and your players, and support their right to peaceful protest. Because as JFK once said, “Those that make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”


In Honor of Heather Heyer


CBTU President Statement on the Tragic Death of Heather Heyer


Statement by Rev. Terry Melvin

President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

In the aftermath of the Neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, when the dust had finally settled, there lay a body on the ground. An innocent woman with a strong moral compass was viciously murdered when a crazed Alt-Right supporter drove his car into the crowd. Over a dozen were injured, but one beautiful soul was lost in this horrific act. Heather Heyer, who traveled to Charlottesville to stand up for all Americans, was taken from us by hate. She was taken from her mother, her father, her friends and family all because she believed America is for all people and just those of pale skin.

Heather was a White woman, who came to a White Nationalist Rally to let those people know she was not one of them. She confronted the hatred in her own race to stand up for all people. She was a hero in her sacrifice and an example of how this issue is about hate, not Black or White. The people who gathered in Charlottesville with Tiki torches were there to send a message of White Power. But it was a White woman who suffered the consequences of their hatred and racism. She paid the ultimate price for voicing her opinion, for standing up for the historically disenfranchised, for demanding that America stay the land home of the braze and the land of the free.

We honor Heather Heyer for her sacrifice. We honor Heather Heyer for her principles and morals. We honor Heather Heyer for fighting the hatred of her kind and proving this is not a White or Black issue but a human issue. Heather died displaying the best of humanity. She died protecting the American dream. CBTU salutes Heather and grieves with her family. We ask you to pray for her and her family as Heaven has received another Angel. Heather Heyer, you are a symbol of strength and a victim of this country’s hatred. May we never forget her sacrifice and may we be as brave as her to stand up when the time demands.


Racism in Charlottesville


CBTU President Statement on Unit the Right Rally


Statement by Rev. Terry Melvin

President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

This weekend the worst of our Nation gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia to demand the restoration of white supremacy. Under the guise of “Uniting the Right,” white racists rallied under the banners of the Confederate Flag, the Nazi Flag, and most importantly their whiteness. No longer donning hooded masks, they grabbed their red MAGA caps and Tiki torches and made a public display that their white privilege will no longer be threatened by the voice and inclusion of non-heterosexual white males. This is what this was all about. White people fearing they have lost their power to oppress others. In their fear of losing control, and empowered by a leader who is silent about their hate, they marched angrily and when that didn’t work they took to violence to prove their point.

In grand irony, these white racists grabbed the banners of regimes toppled by American greatness. The Confederate treasonous rebels were vanquished by an American army made up of Blacks and Whites. It was the inclusion of Black soldiers that helped us defeat these former slave owners. In Nazi Germany, it was brave US soldiers, both Black and White once again, who helped stop the continued genocide of millions of Jews and end the rule of Adolf Hitler. These great victories in American history are now vilified by the descendants of the very Americans who brought us victory. The only thing Confederates and Nazis share in common is that they were both defeated, and like history has taught, they will again be defeated by a coalition of Americans representing our great Nation.

As Black folk, we have always known this side of America exists. Racism has never disappeared. Racial attacks have not ended. And white men exerting their power and privilege on others is nothing new. What is unique is the tone deaf silence we find in the 45th President. Trump has been apt to condemn and mock anyone or anything he finds offensive. He has no problem commenting on women bleeding, but has no comment when someone is literally bleeding from being hit by a car. His lack of commentary is indicative of his relationship to the white racists. While I do not believe all those who support this president are racist, I do believe all racists support this president. His lack of actions and words have reinforced this fact.

We at CBTU condemn the racists and white supremacists of Charlottesville. While we appreciate that they have left their hooded Klan cloaks at home, we do not tolerate their hate. We as Black Americans have a history of confronting and surviving this type of hate. It is second nature to us. And while the rest of America may be shocked to see it so vividly, we see it daily. It is a known enemy that we have fought for centuries and will continue to fight until we see it eradicated. We at CBTU support the counter protestors and commit to stay in the fight against all White racists wherever they may be.

CBTU, which was founded in 1972, is the largest, independent voice of more than 2.2 million African American workers in labor unions today. With more than 50 chapters in major U.S. cities and one in Ontario, Canada, CBTU is dedicated to addressing the unique concerns of black workers and their communities. CBTU is a strong supporter of low-wage workers who are fighting for respect and the right to have a voice on their jobs.

In 2007, CBTU provided critical early union support for Barack Obama’s historic campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2008, introducing him to black voters who were very skeptical then that an African American could ever reach the Oval Office. CBTU went on to galvanize tens of thousands of African American voters and union households in key states on behalf of President Obama’s victorious campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

Rev. Terry L. Melvin, who was elected to lead the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists in 2012, is also the secretary-treasurer of the powerful New York State AFL-CIO. He succeeded CBTU President Emeritus William (Bill) Lucy, the iconic labor leader who co-founded CBTU in 1972.


We Support Nissan Workers!!


CBTU President Statement on Nissan/UAW Union Vote


Statement by Rev. Terry Melvin

President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

Today and tomorrow the workers at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi have a chance to get a voice on the job and a say in their salary. They are voting to join the UAW and begin bargaining against their employer for better wages, benefits, and a say in their working conditions. This election comes on the heels of an NLRB charge that Nissan management has harassed and threatened workers prior to the election. Once again we find when Americans want to exercise their constitutional right to assembly and access to a fair and free election, their rights end where the corporations interests begin.

The vote today has been a 14 year effort to empower not just the workers but also the Black community. Black clergy, civil rights organizations, and community groups have all come out in support of the workers. With the employees being predominantly Black, charges of racial discrimination have been lobbied against the company. The all too familiar story of preferential treatment for white male employees has plagued the shop floor for too long inspiring the NAACP to get involved. This campaign has spread beyond the walls of the Nissan plant and has inspired the community to actively support and encourage the workers to form a union.

The sad part is that these people have been told they should be happy with what they have. The job paid better than minimum wage and therefore they should be grateful to even be employed. This is the mentality of a wage master, a hoarder of profits who tells his workers who make the profits to be happy with the crumbs that fall off the table. Nissan has made billions off the backs of hard working Americans; it is only fair they get a cut of those profits. But wages are not the only thing these workers want. They want an end to the racial discrimination, a cessation of the policy of preferential treatment based on skin color. These working men and women want a career that rewards the skilled and competent and not just those of fair complexion. This campaign is more than just jobs, it is more than just the union. It is about Black workers in the South standing up and demanding the same rights they see others have.

CBTU supports the workers at the Nissan Plant. CBTU supports the UAW and their organizing efforts. Most importantly, CBTU supports all working men and women who want to have a say in their life and who fight to gain control of their destiny. We support you.

CBTU, which was founded in 1972, is the largest, independent voice of more than 2.2 million African American workers in labor unions today. With more than 50 chapters in major U.S. cities and one in Ontario, Canada, CBTU is dedicated to addressing the unique concerns of black workers and their communities. CBTU is a strong supporter of low-wage workers who are fighting for respect and the right to have a voice on their jobs.

In 2007, CBTU provided critical early union support for Barack Obama’s historic campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2008, introducing him to black voters who were very skeptical then that an African American could ever reach the Oval Office. CBTU went on to galvanize tens of thousands of African American voters and union households in key states on behalf of President Obama’s victorious campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

Rev. Terry L. Melvin, who was elected to lead the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists in 2012, is also the secretary-treasurer of the powerful New York State AFL-CIO. He succeeded CBTU President Emeritus William (Bill) Lucy, the iconic labor leader who co-founded CBTU in 1972.




Transgendered Americans Banned from Military


CBTU President Statement on Trumps Ban on Transgendered Military


Statement by Rev. Terry Melvin

President, Coalistion of Black Trade Unionists

On Wednesday, July 26, the 45 th President once again set a new low for the office of the President. On the anniversary of President Roosevelt desegregating the US armed forces, Trump took to twitter to announce the implementation of a new segregation in the military. Yesterday, a section of patriotic and loyal Americans were denounced as mentally unstable and unfit to serve in the military. Siting unnamed generals, Trump said this was done for the benefit of our service forces based on their advice. Unnamed sources seem to have inspired the 45 th President to enact segregative policies to once again fracture this country and divide this nation.

The rationale behind this move echoes from days of Americas past racial segregation. Blacks were called mentally unfit, physically unable, and overall too dim witted to serve side by side with their white counterparts. Today in 2017 Black has been replaced with Transgendered but the excuses remain the same. When it comes to vilifying any oppressed group, the antiquated verbiage of eugenics is immediately resurrected as justification for governmental disenfranchisement. The Black has heard these words before, we know them personally as they have been used against us. We know what hatred sounds like and we stand with our transgendered allies to say we will tolerate it.

Any American willing to serve this country that is fit should be able to do so. It is the patriotic passion that makes our military great, not the genitalia of our forces. The pathetic rationale in banning them from joining the military is the same used to make us drink from different water fountains and once again sets the standard that there are two Americas, one for the privileged and one for the other. CBTU will not stand by quietly in the face of oppression and discrimination. We call on the 45 th President and all his generals to put country over social policy and equip our military with the best and brightest regardless of personal differences. We support our transgendered allies and stand with them against this hate.


A Request from CBTU CARAT Team ED Peyton Wilkins

Greetings Brothers and Sisters,

It is with great urgency that I pen you this letter. At this very moment, Donald Trump and his henchmen are doing everything within their illegitimate power to dismantle eve- ry measure created to protect marginalized communities like ours. We must plot, and execute, a solution to protect our families and loved ones today! One of their most threatening attacks to our health and safety is against the Environmental Protection Agency.

This agency, in its riddled past and dark glory, has in many ways played a crucial role in protecting us from the free market of industrialized capitalism. Certainly, a sobering truth, is the EPA has not been able to protect us completely. However, the risk we face as a community, if we don’t have an EPA, is deadly. We can look at areas like Cancer Alley – the corridor that stretches between New Orleans and Baton Rouge – where thou- sands of Black people died from cancer, asthma, and other pollution related disease. We can look at Flint, MI – where the EPA did drop the ball – and expect to see mishaps like that occur with greater frequency.

And, with the increasing threat of Climate Change to vulnerable populations from coast to coast, we can’t afford to lose the EPA. The last time the EPA has been under siege to this degree was the Reagan administration. It took two years to end the assault.

This fall, the CBTU Education Center will host a dialogue and planning session, bring- ing together representatives from the house and senate, Mustafa Ali (former associate director of the EPA’s Environmental Justice office), members and leadership from un- ions, grassroots organizations, international environmental organizations, HBCU stu- dents and academia, and most importantly, you. The purpose of the dialogue is to devel- op state level solutions and a national level strategy to support the state level solutions that protect the EPA.

This letter is a call for your participation. You will find registration information on CBTU’s website. If you would like to apply for a scholarship please indicate so on the registration. If you would like to donate, or sponsor another person please email me at payton.wilkins@cbtu.org. This dialogue is open to all CBTU membership. However, due to limited funds and grant restrictions, scholarships will only be available to applicants from these states:

Arkansas Florida Illinois Missouri Nevada
Tennessee Michigan Pennsylvania Georgia Indiana
Alabama Virginia Minnesota

In Solidarity,

P. M. Wilkins

National Director, CARAT Teams

Click here to register


Bill_Simmons

D-Day and Forgotten Black Heroes

This commentary honors a labor icon and D-Day hero, William Simons. It also exposes the myth of D-Day, June 6, 1944, one of the most revered battles in modern military history.

First, props to WWII veteran and D-Day survivor Bill Simons, one of the five founders of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. He was a key architect of CBTU's policy and parliamentary framework, and he served as president of the Washington Teachers Union in Washington, DC.

Bill Simons stopped the disrespect and abuse of DC teachers and showed them how to empower their voice to protect their professionalism and dignity. He led two successful teacher strikes in 1972 and 1979.

Before Bill Simons fought for teachers in the classroom and black trade unionists, he voluntarily fought for his country, in spite of racism by law and custom in the 1940s.

He was one nearly 2,000 African Americans who landed on the blood-soaked beaches of Normandy under heavy fire on June 6, 1944, and went on to help liberate France from Nazi Germany in WWII.

For his courage and service, CBTU founder Bill Simons was one of 100 veterans who the French government invited to Paris in June 2004 to be awarded the French Legion of Honor, that country's highest civilian decoration.

Yet, black heroes like Bill Simons have routinely been written out of D-Day stories. Movies don't show them. Textbooks ignore them. And the media are too lazy to hone a more truthful, compelling narrative about D-Day heroism.

In fact, the whitewashed American D-Day story has been generally spun into a myth, erasing the ugly racism that black soldiers encountered on the battlefield.

Try this one: In spite of black soldiers' bravery under fire, white troops on the beach of Normandy and afterwards refused -- yes, refused -- to bring food to them to survive. So African American soliders found themselves fighting on two fronts -- against the Nazis and against American racism transplanted to European battlefields.

So on this commemoration of D-Day, let history show that we proudly honored the forgotten heroes who weren't white, men like Bill Simons with dark skin and stout hearts, brave buffalo soldiers who endured racism to liberate another country.

Thank you, D-Day brothers.





CBTU COMMENTARY

The February Jobs Report: “Don’t Be Fooled: Dark Clouds Gather.”

Rev. Terry L. Melvin, President of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists,

The Labor Department’s announcement that the U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in February, while the unemployment rate dipped to 4.7 percent was universally hailed as good news – on Wall Street, in the White House, and in the media. The so-called “Trump bump” was credited for the jobs rally, leading commentators to speculate that the president might actually be able to deliver on his campaign promise of “huge” job growth, far better than under President Obama, whose legacy haunts him daily.

But tucked inside the report are more troubling figures that could portend an economy becoming even more inequitable to black workers than to their white counterparts, a trend that could have far-reaching implications. The number of black workers employed last month dropped by 67,000, while white workers experienced a stunning surge of 429,000 new jobs. That reversed a pattern of upward job growth for black workers under President Obama. Similarly, while the number of unemployed white workers declined by nearly 250,000 last month, black unemployment reversed its downward trend under President Obama, spiking up by 72,000 people in February.

This is not an encouraging sign for black folks in a Trump-led economy. He has promised to slash public sector jobs (excluding the military). He has scorned advocates of a minimum wage hike. He has condoned the venomous bigotry of the alt-right.

There will be those who casually dismiss our concerns. As one writer said today, “There just aren’t that many people left unemployed.” Wrong! They are just too black or brown, and they live in overlooked zip codes. Indeed, the failure to recognize that the black working class is, indeed, a central component of the larger working class -- and not some marginal sub-category – has led many to ignore persistent disparities.

  • For the past 50 years, the unemployment rate for African American workers has been at least double that of their white counterparts.
  • At its lowest point, when white male median earnings dropped to $37,000 in 1981, it was still higher than the peak median earnings of $34,118 that black men reached in 2006 -- 25 years later.
  • • In 2010, the wealth of white households was eight times black household wealth, but it jumped to 13 times the median wealth of black households in 2013 – an astounding 50 percent jump in only three years.

Such entrenched disparities (even worse for black women) have given rise to divergent views of the economy. From the black perspective, the jobs crisis, persistent low-wages and racial bias are the crux of the economic calamity ravaging many black communities.

For millions of white workers, though, the rising economic tide, even if late and unsteady, has lifted their boats. That’s why Trump’s coded appeal to racial identity and nationalism (“Take Our Country Back,” or “Let’s Make America Great Again”) caught so many Democrats off-guard in the last presidential election.

Yet, in spite of the long-term economic recovery that started under President Obama, the jobs crisis in Black America is still real, still killing dreams and still handcuffing too many of our young men and women. Though we might pretend to be hopeful about Trump’s hand on the economy, history teaches us to believe what our eyes see.

Don’t be fooled: dark clouds gather.



The Passing of CBTU Founding Member William “Bill” Simons III

Another pillar of CBTU has passed away. Bill Simons, beloved and revered and one of the founding members of CBTU, died peacefully Wednesday, December 7th, in Atlanta, where he lived with his daughter. At this time, no details are available about funeral arrangements or where to send condolences to his family. As soon as such information is confirmed, we will share it with Brother Simons's CBTU family and friends.

To say William H. Simons III is a legend shortchanges his immense influence on CBTU, the DC labor labor movement and public education in the District of Columbia. Bill was always at the center of effforts to empower workers and advance racial equality. He joined William (Bill) Lucy, Charles A. Hayes, Cleve Robinson and Nelson Jack Edwards in calling for the historic gathering of black trade unionists in 1972 that launched the Coalition of BlackTrade Unionists and thereby ensured African Americans would have their own independent voice heard inside the labor movement.

Brother Simons was a key architect of CBTU's policy and parliamentary framework, and he served as CBTU's first national secretary. He also was elected the first president of the Washington Teachers' Union. He held the position for 25 years, leading two teacher strikes and negotiating landmark contracts.

Brother Simons took great pride in having his life and career chronicled in Christine Easterling's definitive biography entitled, "A Giant for Justice: Inspirational Biography of William H. Simons III." Even after turning 90 years old, Brother Simons still attended CBTU's annual convention in 2015 (Atlanta).

Bill Simons' effervescent smile, robust laugh and deep humility will be sorely missed by those of us who were touched by his presence and his wisdom.

He was 92 years old. His death leaves CBTU President Emeritus William "Bill" Lucy as the last living founding member.

We send our deepest condolences to the Simons family and offer CBTU’s help in any way possible during this difficult time.


Black Trade Union Leaders Speak Out on The Future of the Labor Movement in New Report

Download 'A Future for Workers' Report

Washington, DC – A new 35-page white paper, "A Future for Workers: A Contribution From Black Labor," was released this week by the Black Labor Collaborative, a group of influential African American leaders from major labor organizations who offer a progressive critique and agenda to frame discussions about the direction of the American labor movement. This is a seismic development, because it is the first time representatives of 2.1 million black trade unionists have published a comprehensive outlook on organized labor.

The BLC report lands the same week that the AFL-CIO's Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice held its first meeting. It also comes amid an explosion of protests and activism in black communities and among low-wage black workers across the nation, demanding racial justice as well as economic justice. For example:

  • For the past 50 years, the unemployment rate for African American workers has been at least double that of their white counterparts.
  • At its lowest point, when white male median earnings dropped to $37,000 in 1981, it was still higher than the peak median earnings of $34,118 that black men reached in 2006 -- 25 years later.

In an executive summary that accompanies the report, the BLC calls for a “transformed labor movement,” noting that “the foe we face, in the political Right and global capitalism, demands a transformed and energized labor movement that can fight back with more than slogans of solidarity. No tinkering around the edges! A transformed movement must be authentically inclusive because diversity carries the strongest seeds of change, of untapped creativity.”

Rev. Terrence L. Melvin, one of the BLC conveners, said, “This is not about a ‘black agenda.’ This brief paper seeks to advance a broader discussion that is so badly needed: What is it that workers need and want, and how can it become the robust agenda that can truly rally the bottom 99% to collective action?”

Melvin, who is also president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), added, “We approach these questions in the voice of nearly 2.1 million African Americans in labor unions. We believe a frank and open conversation where diverse voices are heard can produce changes that will strengthen our movement and benefit all workers.”

Download 'A Future for Workers' Report

Download 'A Future for Workers' Report - Executive Summary

Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report - Media Coverage