The Need for a Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
A free and progressive trade union movement in the 21st century should and must reflect greater participation of black trade unionists at every level of its decision-making process. This is no less true in today's globalized workplace then in America's industrial heyday, when black workers were basically a source of cheap labor. Therefore, as black trade unionists, we have an important role to fulfill Ð helping all workers benefit from the goals achieved by the trade union movement.
There are more than 2.5 million black workers in organized labor (nearly half of them women) the single largest organization of African Americans in the nation. One of every five black workers (20%) belongs to a union. The evidence is overwhelming that the economic status of unionized black workers in terms of higher wages, improved working conditions and better benefits, like pensions and health insurance represents a significant force within the black community and in organized labor.
The trade union movement is probably the only broad-based organization that spans the entire black community. Yet, as trade unionists, we are part of a broad community whose resources have never been fully or consistently organized. Consequently, it remains our challenge, as black trade unionists, to make the labor movement more relevant to the needs and aspirations of black and poor workers.
The Coalition is not a black separatist or civil rights organization. It will work within the framework of the trade union movement to maximize the strength and influence of black workers.
Today, more black leaders hold key positions in the political machinery of the labor movement, thus holding the critical balance of political power in this nation. As black trade unionists, we adamantly believe that it is our responsibility to constructively harness and use the expertise and power of this untapped political resource. To that end, CBTU will continue to insist that black union officials become full partners in the leadership and decision-making of the American labor movement. We welcome your participation.
Tentative Agenda *Updated*
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)
A. Phillip Randolph Institute (APRI)
Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW)
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA)
Pride at Work