Features, Health and Safety, Law and Politics, Municipal Government, New York

Unions Believe Black Lives Matter

September 14, 2020

By Ralph Palladino, 2nd VP Local 1549 DC 37 AFSCME

New York, NY – Unions around the world are lending concrete support to the Black Lives Matter (BLM)movement.

They are echoing the movement’s demands for racial unity, police and judicial reform, ending discrimination in jobs, pay, healthcare, housing, and education. Rank and file members and leaders of unions have marched with Black Lives Matter ever since the murder of George Floyd.

Unions representing sports athletes in the WNBA, NBA, MLB, NHL, and NFL have all come out strongly to support BLM goals. The multi-ethnic rank and file players of these sports have been united on this issue. They have succeeded in influencing and gaining support from largely conservative and white ownership. You will now see athletes participating in signs of support for BLM at nearly every sporting event. The NFL has preceded the playing of the National Anthem with the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during the first week of pro football games.

Black Labor Week

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is sponsoring a week-long series of events named Black Labor Week from Monday, September 14 through Friday the 18th. It is dedicated as a public educational event on the importance of the Black community and labor to the nation as a whole. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) is one union among others that is promoting the series. For more information on how you and others can participate contact AFGE at (202) 737-8700 or by email: comments@afge.org. or online by googling: AFGEBlackLaborWeek.

The AFL-CIO representing 13 million workers issued a statement in June supporting Black Lives Matters’ goals. “Today, the General Board of the AFL-CIO adopted a comprehensive set of recommendations to take concrete action to address America’s long history of racism and police violence against black people.” It went on to say that, “Whether it’s banning chokeholds, expanding use of body cameras, ending racial profiling, demilitarizing our police forces or limiting no-knock warrants, the LCCHR’s (the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights) recommendations on police reform has the potential to create a fairer, more community-centric policing culture… We are proud to join the calls for policing and criminal justice reform by Black Lives Matter and the broader civil rights movement.”

Many large international unions representing millions of workers including the AFSCME, CWA, and SEIU passed resolutions at their conventions supporting BLM aims. These unions have formed diversity committees to educate the rank and file about racism.

Job Actions and Resolutions of Support

Major U.S. unions and racial and social justice organizations organized job actions of tens of thousands of workers called the “Strike for Black Lives” on July 20. Union members and unions have participated in Black Lives Matters for months across the country. Major unions representing autoworkers, truck drivers, teachers, and healthcare workers have pledged more job actions and marches demanding that local and federal officials act on police and judicial reform.

Unions worldwide have issued statements, resolutions, marched, and threatened work actions to support Black Lives Matter. The Council of Global unions with 20 million works in 150 countries issued a call to fight against systemic racism and to re-imagine the criminal justice system in the United States and beyond which in part stated that” they fight for a new world. A world where we all recognize that Black Lives Matter…For too long racism and white supremacy have divided working people and weakened our ability to win real power,” and the GCU is declaring ‘no more.’”

Unifying Issue for Union

Only some unions endorsed and participated in the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King with Black labor leader A. Phillip Randolph at his side. Many unions thought it was “divisive” to fight for racial equality. Throughout the years the number of unions taking public stands on this critical unifying issue for working-class and poor people has grown.

The entire labor movement is mobilizing their members to vote and change the resident in the White House so as to further win these and other critical reforms for working people. Organized labor seems to have finally united in realizing that yes,

“BLACK LIVES MATTER!”

September 14, 2020

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