CBTU President Terry Melvin is featured in an excellent news video produced by the Machinists union. Dr. William "Bill" Lucy, CBTU president emeritus, is also interviewed in the video.
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Statement by Terry Melvin President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
CBTU President Says Decision “Alerts Black Folks to Fear the Vigilantes Who Wear the Black Robes on the High Court.”
Thank you for that warm reception. It helps calm my nerves for this blessed occasion.
I want to welcome each one of you to the 42nd International Convention of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. And let’s give a shout out to our host city, Orlando.
Delegates and guests, friends and family, and -- for the very first time in CBTU convention history – brothers and sisters watching this live on the Internet, I bring you humble greetings on behalf of myself and the entire leadership of the CBTU. This is a convention of firsts and new beginnings. A convention, embodied by our theme, which will look at the Paths to Building on Our Future.
The clearest path forward has been set by my mentor and our fearless leader, President Emeritus William Lucy. With his vision, his heart and his remarkable achievements, Bill has cast the seeds of CBTU’s growth and longevity. And for the first time ever, we must harvest without him at the helm. He is, however, still with us. Still our moral compass. Still advising and guiding us. We love us some Bill Lucy. So give it up for our own Living Legend, Dr. William “Bill” Lucy!
You, my sisters and brothers, have placed a lot of trust in me to lead this great organization. But let’s get this straight right away: NO man can fill Bill Lucy’s shoes – EVER. But I WILL be the best Terry Melvin I can be. The best CBTU President I can be. The best labor leader I can be. I will work harder…longer…smarter…and better to protect CBTU’s legacy of greatness against all attacks and complacency. I will be there for each of you whenever you hit a rough patch. And I’m counting on my CBTU family to keep me humble and keep me in prayer as I encounter the challenges that lie before me.
You know, I’ve been to a few of these conventions before. First as a member, then a chapter president, and most recently, as a Region Director. I sat where you are now, listening and waiting for my marching orders. Like you, I looked forward to socializing at the galas, the receptions and the parties. But I also knew during convention time, I was gonna be working my tail off. We’d have workshops till 5; then town halls at 6, meetings till 7, and if you sang, choir practice till 11 o’clock at night. And then we’d do it again the next day. But there was a reason for all of that hard work: we WANTED to give our heart and soul to this great organization. We worked because there was work to do, and greatness don’t quick and it don’t come easy. This is our history. This is what has earned CBTU so much respect and so many allies around the world. Well, brothers and sisters I’m warning you now that has not changed. You should also be aware that this convention has also generated a lot buzz outside of CBTU.
This page-turning moment comes as the labor movement is scrambling to organize a workforce that is younger -- more black and brown – a workforce battered by globalization, wage stagnation and fading confidence in shaky political leaders. CBTU will continue to be a reliable voice for progressive change within the labor movements and a key player in mobilizing black voters on the national and local level. But we must – and we WILL – to use a common computer term, “re-boot” our own approaches to recruiting new members, building more active chapters and leading stronger coalitions.
We must blend digital talent with old school wisdom to compete on the new battlefields as we re-boot CBTU to get bigger and better and more connected. Let’s recall how far we’ve come. Who among CBTU’s founders would have dared to imagine a black man serving his second term as president 42 years later? I know it probably blows Bill Lucy’s and Bill Simon’s minds to see Barack Obama in the White House. Deceased legends like Jim Bell and Jim Butler; Cleve Robinson and Geraldine Johnson; and Rev. Addie Wyatt and Horace Sheffield probably believed Nelson Mandela would never live long enough to get out of jail, let alone become the first black president South Africa. And right here in this ballroom, we have the honor of welcoming back one of our own – Mrs. Arlene Holt Baker, who is the highest ranking African American woman in the AFL-CIO. Sisters and Brothers we have come a long way since 1972, but we have NOT reached the Mountaintop.
We are still not equal. Let me say that again, with a heavy heart, we still are not equal.
• Not when one of our children gets shot for wearing a simple
• Not when black people are still the most unemployable, most convictable, and still the poorest people in America.
• Not when 1 in 3, we are reminded that we are black men will still be locked up in jail or prison. Let me repeat that: In 2013, one in three Black men is sent to jail.
• This is the 2013 we are living in, and we clearly are not treated equally.
Now, this is not to say that we haven’t accomplished some pretty amazing things. In 2012 when the choices were a Black man who wanted to provide healthcare to the poor and a Millionaire who stated he hated 47 percent of us, we went door to door registering voters, walked miles reminding people to vote on election day, and educated people all over this country on what mattered most to us. You put on your walking shoes and attended forums, hosted registration drives, and even shuttled voters to the polling stations. You were everywhere doing everything to ensure our needs, interests, and voices were heard on Election Day. But we still have work to do.
We got complacent and dropped our guard after we got Obama elected the first time. And we paid a price when we got our butts kicked in the 2010 mid-term elections. We took our public sector unions jobs for granted, and then endured the most brutal attacks since President Ronald Reagan busted the union of Air Traffic Controllers. We got complacent with stagnant Private Sector union membership and then was blindsided with the loss of overtime, the failure of 401k’s, and now the spread of Right to Work legislation.
This is what happens when we take our rights and our gains for granted, when we relish in our victories but forget there is still a war going on against working people. We no longer have the luxury to be complacent. Brothers and Sisters we have work to do. This is a very packed convention. Now I know all of you have looked over the agenda. I know you’ve already decided when you’re going shopping, or tanning, or just disappearing. I know you’ve already said to yourself “I don’t need to go to that.” “I know all about this already.” I know you’ve already given me a certain amount of time and heavens forbid I keep you any longer. How dare we! So I’m just going to tell you up front – we’re keeping you longer, working you harder, and challenging you like never before.
Like I said before, CBTU is re-booting so that we’re prepared for when we leave Orlando.
• We have brought in experts in their fields and challenged them to provide useful information and insight on their respective topics.
• Our facilitators have been challenged to engaged and educate participants in a manner that provides them with concrete skills and tools to bring back home.
• Speakers have flown in from all parts of this country and world to bring you a new vision and perspective on the issues facing us as Union members as well as Black people in this country.
And so I’ve personally challenged all those who are working this convention.
• I’ve challenged registration to make sure you guys had a smooth system.
• I challenged my staff to produce a higher quality product.
• I’ve even challenged the VIP’s, letting them know we don’t need talking heads, we need energized soldiers.
Since I’ve challenged all of them, I now need to challenge each of you. I challenge you to participate. I challenge you to engage. I challenge you to invest yourself in this convention, to soak up as much information as you can, to build up your skill set for your return home. I challenge you to commit to this convention. Nobody can prove you showed up or skipped panels or workshops. And you can choose to chill out in your room all day and nobody would be the wiser.
The only way anyone will know what you did is when you get home and report back to your union or your local CBTU chapter. What will you make up or what will you have to share? The truth show in your work, in the new ideas you bring back, the enthusiasm and pride you display, the tangible effort to make your local or chapter better. And I promise if you commit to this convention, and if you take this walk with us, you will gain something valuable that can help your community and help move us forward. I challenge you to join us on this journey. It is the right path to build our future from our solid foundation of greatness. Let’s get busy Thank you.
CBTU "Re-boots" Activist Agenda
The leadership baton passed smoothly at CBTU’s 42nd International Convention, May 22-27, 2013. The 1,000 delegates who participated in the content-packed convention in Orlando, Florida, responded enthusiastically to CBTU President Terry Melvin’s call to “soak up as much information as you can and build up your skill set for your return home.” That the focus of this convention was on building bigger and better CBTU chapters signals that it’s time to “re-boot” to meet the challenges in 2013 and beyond. Learn more about the Orlando convention and share it.
Union members across Oklahoma and Texas are devastated today to learn their brothers and sisters in Moore, Oklahoma lost their homes in the terrible tornados on May 20th. The UFCW wants to come to our brothers and sisters aid and help them recover. Many lost friends and loved ones and others lost their homes. Please donate to this campaign to help your neighbors recover from this tragedy. Give $10, $25 or as much as you can to help!
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
CBTU CARAT Team