For Black unionists, labor reforms, like those in education, law enforcement and politics, are more rhetoric than reality. They must understand that reform emanates from privileged conversations and closed door decisions by leaders who do not l look like them. And given Blacks’ continuing low priority status in unions, it’s safe to conclude organized labor’s high-level decisions routinely do not take Black workers’ needs and concerns into proper consideration.
Debate over the future of the AFL-CIO began in earnest about fifteen years ago. Back then, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) started to focus on how to reverse the unions’ downward slide. Then, as now, Blacks were phantom participants in high-level decision-making or developing strategic alternatives to the status quo. (However, unified, Blacks in organized labor could, and should, be a significant force in determining the future of organized labor, thereby strengthening themselves and their unions.
Several years ago, Bill Fletcher, president of TransAfrica Forum, campaigned to raise awareness in the U.S. about issues facing the nations and peoples of Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. This offered insightful perspectives on what he called organized labor’s “train wreck.” (Los Angeles Sentinel)