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As this month of reflection comes to a close, we rededicate ourselves to the work.

This is a pivotal moment for organized labor. Our economy is changing once more.

From Segregation to Fair Employment: The Drive for Equality

Without the leadership of unions, workers will once again pay the price. Without leadership from workers of color, we cannot stand united against the billionaires and bosses who threaten our livelihoods and our future. Light refreshments will be served at 5 p. For more info, call Union membership is on the rise here in Washington state.

Black history informs the future of organized labor

It meant sacrificing already anemic pay for the duration of the strike; facing the wrath of the mayor, Henry Loeb, who had declared the strike illegal; and enduring violent suppression by a racist and unflinching police force. The sanitation workers went on strike anyway.

With that decision, two key African American movements that had been moving in parallel for decades became fatefully intertwined: the fight for labor rights and the fight for civil rights. Local churches helped feed the workers and their families during the strike.

Clarence Darrow’s Unfinished Work

One particularly bloody day, 28 March , ended with arrests, 60 injuries and the death of a year-old boy, Larry Payne, who came to support the strikers. King was visiting Memphis to support the strike when he was murdered on a motel balcony. Smith has a winsome squint and a smile that belies his sharp wit, perhaps from the 51 years of working with the sanitation workers that he still counts as co-workers half a century later. His blue pinstripe suit is pressed perfectly, with creases marking each pant pleat.

American Federation of Labor - Wikipedia

The sanitation workers also achieved unionization through AFSCME Local and, perhaps most saliently, they get time off for the same type of rainy weather that led to the deaths of Cole and Walker. Thanks in part to the work of groups like AFSCME Local — still going strong today — many black workers are now organized in labor unions.

On the last Friday of May, Donald Trump signed a series of executive orders that dealt a blow to the ability of federal employees to organize.

Then, on 27 June, the US supreme court ruled that public sector unions can no longer compel employees to pay union dues. On the surface, these recent developments may seem unremarkable — and outcries from labor may just sound like public sector workers unwilling to let go of a comfortable status quo. A classic, radical history of Black workers' contribution to the American labor movement. Department of Labor History, Library Journal "Foner's book provides considerable illumination of the an important and often overlooked aspect of American labor history.

African Americans and the American Labor Movement

Tabb, Review, Review of Black Political Economy "Organized Labor and the Black Worker … documents a very long history of trade union and white working-class intransigence to Black working-class advancement alongside episodes of interracial class unity and the elusive promise of a radical future….

Foner reminds us that African Americans provided leadership to white workers—or at least they tried.


  • A House Divided: African American Workers Struggle Against Segregation.
  • A House Divided: African American Workers Struggle Against Segregation.
  • Breaking the Chain of Disease!

A stunning achievement; it still stands as the most comprehensive treatment to date of African American workers and the labor movement.