Labor Shift Episode 2: Red, White, Black & Stressed Out

Click here to watch the broadcast

“Labor Shift” is CBTU’s new podcast/web series. It is our response to the moment we find ourselves in. A time when we are under siege from all sides – a killer virus, a deranged president, a tanking economy, and white racism that takes black lives, whether jogging or sleeping. “Labor Shift” is a place where WE can engage in respectful debates, while supporting each other in our local social justice work. That means we won’t bite our tongue or dodge the difficult conversations that America, and the labor movement, need to bet having. There is no other podcast that features progressive black voices in the labor movement.

This episode of "Labor Shift," President and podcast host Terry Melvin had a conversation with his distinguished panelist on the economic impact of COVID-19 and how young people are struggling and adapting in these times. The panelists this episode consisted of Clayola Brown, the President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) and First Vice-President of CBTU, William Spriggs, Chief Economist for the AFL-CIO, JaidaCurtis, National Youth Leader & Coordinator for APRI, Olwadimini Melvin, Chair of the CBTU Under40 Committee, and

No Justice No Peace

On Monday, May 25, George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota was assassinated by police officers. His death was recorded on video. His pleas for help captured by the audio. The smug look on the officer’s face as he pressed his knee on George’s neck forever imprinted in our minds. We as Americans have lost our ability to trust and believe in our law enforcement and to have faith that our elected leaders are operating with our best interests. While the COVID-19 death toll surpassed 100,000 lives, law enforcement was shooting tear gas canisters, a noxious gas known to cause respiratory issues at protesters demanding justice. Yet when armed men held a state capital hostage, the White House asked the governor to negotiate with the domestic terrorist. America has failed leadership. As a result we must look to the international community for support and guidance. 

CBTU is joining in the call with the NAACP to ask the United Nations to intervene and label the historic and consistent abuse of Blacks in this country and specifically right now as a Human Rights Violation. History is repeating itself and we need the world stage to recognize this moment. When we ran off plantations, they sent the dogs after us. When we marched in Selma, they sicced dogs on us. And when we marched for justice for George Floyd in front of the White House, the racist occupant tweeted he follow the tradition of Bull Connor and sic vicious dogs on us again. History is repeating itself and we must acknowledge that this is plantation treatment.

But this is not a Black versus White issue. This is a Justice issue. It is a time when we the people need to take back control of our governing institutions. While we have seen images of police using excessive force, I have also seen officers marching side by side with protesters, taking a knee in solidarity, and hugging their community members in love and compassion. The institution of law enforcement has been militarized and weaponized. But the people behind the shield are still our brothers and sisters and cousins and friends. They are still our neighbors and many of them agree that this is a travesty. Many of them have broken their silence to  correctly call the death of George Floyd a murder.

While looking to the world stage to call out this situation we must also take our peaceful protests in the streets to the ballot box. We must vote out the politicians who protect and empower racists. We must purge our government of white supremacists. Once again CBTU calls on the Congressional Black Caucus and all Legislators to re-implement Obama Era policies on law enforcement. We call on the Biden campaign to advocate and endorse the policies passed when he was Vice-President. And we call on the Justice Department to follow those standards and  exceed expectations. We must never retreat from fight for the justice and freedom that our ancestors spilled their blood for.

The words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sum up this moment best. “I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation's summers of riots are caused by our nation's winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these                   recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”    

Labor Shift Episode 2: Red, White, Black & Stressed Out


Today, I have the privilege of endorsing Joe Biden to be the 46th President of the United States of America on behalf of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. CBTU is the independent voice of 1.2 million black workers represented by 57 international unions in the U.S. and Canada.

We have been involved in presidential politics since 1972, when 1,200 black workers convened in Chicago, Illinois, at the LaSalle Hotel and endorsed progressive Democrat George McGovern for president – defying the powerful AFL-CIO’s neutral stance in the election against Richard Nixon, the hawkish Republican president.

We view the 2020 elections as a watershed in American history. Four more years of a Trump presidency could push America to the point of no return. The hate and divisiveness being poured into the veins of this democracy by the man elected to preserve it has done incalculable damage to our institutions, our families, and our communities. That’s why we must get this right. We must throw our full support behind a candidate who has the character, credibility, and game plan to lift America from the sewage of Trumpism.

Joe Biden is democracy’s best and only hope in the presidential race of 2020.

The roots of CBTU’s endorsement were planted a year ago at our international convention in Atlanta. More than 600 delegates participated in a presidential straw poll. The winner in a field of 20 Democratic candidates was Joe Biden, overwhelmingly. CBTU members knew then and they believe now, more than ever, that Joe Biden is the real deal. No blow-dried phoniness. No perfect sentences that say absolutely nothing.

Joe has lived through wrenching personal tragedies with grace and had the back of America’s first black president, Barack Obama. As senator, he was a tireless champion for civil rights, voting rights, union rights and security for seniors. In the Obama administration, he ran interference on Capitol Hill, using his experience and reputation to win key votes on both sides of the aisle.

President Obama deeply values Joe’s wisdom and his loyalty. And he’s vowed to campaign hard for his former V.P. Joe’s decency and his track record only magnifies the cruelty and incompetence of the current Occupant in the White House.

 Any attempt to describe the full scale of pain and devastation and death caused by the Trump administration would exceed the time and tolerance I have today.

 He has:

  • Separated families
  • Put immigrant children in cages
  • Packed courts with young, unqualified conservative judges
  • Slashed rules that protect workers on the job
  • Snatched overtime pay from millions of workers
  • And tried to stick a knife in collective bargaining rights

Nearly 100,000 Americans have died during this coronavirus pandemic, while he has tried to sabotage public health guidelines and smother the truth to advance his own selfishness political interests. Let me make it plain: The current Occupant in the White House has wrapped himself in white nationalism and stoked the racial anxiety of a population that sees itself shrinking, but still the center of America – its past, present and future.  

He has told four American congresswomen of color to “go back to where they came from.” In just the past week, he has reposted racist tweets from one of his supporters who has called Senator Kamala Harris a “ho”; Stacey Abrams “Shamu”, and cable tv host Joy Reid “a skank.” Trump is obsessed with demonizing his predecessor, Barack Obama, who has the audacity of being competent and running a scandal-free White House for eight years.

It really boils down to this question: Will four more years of Donald Trump benefit this country or your family?

Now, don’t misunderstand, we’re not yearning for a return to some sanitized “normal.” Not when normal means a status quo that never worked for us. The crisis triggered by the coronavirus has exposed deep inequalities in our society. This is our moment to help America imagine a society that leans forward, putting working people at the center of power and racial and gender equity on the table.

Just imagine the doors of possibility we can open with a reliable ally in the White House. Joe Biden’s Lift Every Voice Plan for Black America is a good starting point to envision a post-Trump America that has the leadership and a blueprint to tackle urgent and systemic inequities. His plan, for example, calls for:

  • Premium pay for frontline workers in the pandemic
  • A rent freeze for the duration of the crisis and a halt to foreclosures and evictions
  • A $15 minimum wage for all workers
  • Increased subsidies to Obamacare
  • Student debt relief
  • And a boost Social Security benefits for vulnerable recipients

We look forward to engaging the Biden campaign to refine this plan and to embrace new ideas. One area where we have particular interest in having a broader conversation is criminal justice reform.

Earlier this week, Americans were shocked – again – by the brutal murder of a black man in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. Black folks are enraged and struggling to hold it together. George Floyd was lynched, on the ground, when a cop pressed his knee on his neck and ignored his pleas for air for 10 MINUTES, until he drew his last breath.

And for what? Murder? Robbery? Stealing? No. He was only “suspected” of trying to pass a fake $20 bill. “Suspected.” Now he’s dead and his family is grieving.

George Floyd is just the most recent victim of white supremacy wearing a badge. It is not enough that the four officers involved in his death have been fired. The family, the community, and their allies around the country, like CBTU, demand swift, firm, and equivalent justice.

But the larger issue here is that more and more police departments are functioning like death squads. In March, white plainclothes police in Louisville burst in an apartment – without a search warrant – and shot Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, at least EIGHT TIMES, killing her. Neither Breonna nor George deserved to die at the hands of white police.

We need to root out every single police officer affiliated with white supremacist groups or chat networks. During the Obama-Biden administration, the FBI had an office that was responsible for identifying white supremacist police officers. When Trump took office in 2017, he re-assigned them to focus exclusively on Muslims. Surprise, surprise.

CBTU calls upon Joe Biden to commit today to reestablishing that office in his first 100 days in office, after he’s elected. We also ask him to pledge to provide that office with adequate funding to purge white supremacists from police departments.  The next president must lead the eradication of white supremacists from law enforcement at every level. We hope Joe Biden is up to that task.  

CBTU’s endorsement is more than a choice between competing visions for America’s future. It’s a call to action NOW to black workers across the country. We cannot afford to drift through the summer and hope to mobilize the massive turnout in our unions and communities that will deliver victory on Election Day. The fluctuating scenarios of campaigning and voting require early and sustained engagement.


These past 3 ½ years have been difficult to survive – even with prayer. And now COVID19 has pushed us all to the brink. But like other points in our history when we were nearly broken by racial violence or suffocated by poverty, the 2020 election presents us with an opportunity to rise above the hate and divisiveness. Yes, even as we bear the brunt of this horrible pandemic, we must seize the torch of hope and light the way to the polls -- or the mailbox. We deserve to be taken seriously as the most consistent working-class voters for Democratic candidates.

 CBTU will take the field in battleground states and across the nation. We will use all our resources to elect Joe Biden, keep the House, take the Senate, and shift the balance of power in statehouses toward worker-friendly progressive elected officials.

America, get ready – a shift is coming!

Click here to watch the endorsement

CBTU Rolls with Joe

You are invited to a major CBTU event on Thursday, May 28th, at 1 p.m. EST on CBTU Facebook Live. President Melvin will make it official: CBTU is Rolling with Joe!

He will make a brief statement outlining why CBTU is endorsing Joe Biden for President. CBTU’s Executive Board voted unanimously to support President Melvin’s recommendation to endorse Biden, who Barack Obama chose as his vice president. Biden will receive the Democratic Party’s nomination later this summer.

On Tuesday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released a video announcing the federation’s endorsement of Biden, who needs strong support from union households to win key battleground states, like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio.

Please tune into this important Facebook event at 1 pm EST.

CBTU Condemns the Murder of George Floyd

On Monday, May 25, George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota was brutally murdered by police officers. As per traditional talking points, it was claimed that the officers involved were restraining Mr. Floyd as he resisted arrest. Video footage of the incident shows Mr. Floyd on the ground, restrained, and an officer kneeling on his neck. Documented video of the this murder shows Mr. Floyd was retrained, not a threat, not resisting, and pleading for his life. This is another murder in a long line of assassinations of Black people that has erupted over this nation in the past few weeks.

      Mr. Floyd was murdered by the Minneapolis Police Department. Law enforcement in this country has a long standing policy of abusing and murdering Black people. We recently found out about the tracking, hunting, and murdering of jogger Ahmaud Arbery. Then we had to deal with brutal slaying of Breanna Taylor, a Louisville EMT. She was gunned down by officers in during a raid of the wrong address. Then, on Monday, we shown the senseless murder of George Floyd. This was coupled with the video of Amy Cooper calling the cops, lying that an “African American male is threatening me.” She knew, like everyone citizen knows in this country, that just the allegation of harassment by a Black person can lead to their arrest or death regardless of the evidence. We have the evidence on George Floyd, he was murdered.

       Many are calling on the Justice Department and the FBI to do an investigation. While CBTU applauds these efforts, we would be remiss to have much faith, as this administration immediately repealed key police oversight measures under Attorney General Session that were put in place under President Obama. The DOJ has yet to re-implement these measures that allowed citizens to hold law enforcement accountable. CBTU calls on the Congressional Black Caucus to demand re-implementation of Obama era police oversight. Justice must be served and police officers must be held accountable for the vicious murder of George Floyd.

Labor Shift Episode #1: COVID-19 Myth Busting

Click here for the link

“Labor Shift” is CBTU’s new podcast/web series.  It is our response to the moment we find ourselves in. A time when we are under siege from all sides – a killer virus, a deranged president, a tanking economy, and white racism that takes black lives, whether jogging or sleeping. “Labor Shift” is a place where WE can engage in respectful debates, while supporting each other in our local social justice work. That means we won’t bite our tongue or dodge the difficult conversations that America, and the labor movement, need to bet having. There is no other podcast that features progressive black voices in the labor movement..

This episode of "Labor Shift," President and podcast host Terry Melvin takes a deep dive with his guests to untangle fact from myth in understanding the coronavirus and the deadly disease it causes, COVID19. Two highly respected union experts, Lula Odom and Roy McAllister, lift the fog of confusion and provide life-saving information about the pandemic that is devastating black communities across America and exposing the deadly legacy of racial inequality. Don’t miss this timely black labor perspective on COVID19.

Contact Information:

Lula Odom:

Roy McAllister:

Payton Wilkins:


ICWUC Center for Worker Health & Safety Education This is the website for the International Chemical Workers Union Council Center for Worker & Safety Education that has up to date information on COVID-19 and links for guidance.

2019-nCoV Overview for EMS Agencies (IAFC) This website contains a plethora of reliable information regarding the virus. The information is curated by the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

2019-nCoV Situation Overview (CDC) This is the Situation Summary developed by the CDC. This site is constantly updated with news regarding the virus.

Interim Guidance for Healthcare Providers (CDC) This site contains information for health care providers. The information on this site contains information for subjects like patient care, strategies for addressing the virus, and many other topics related to healthcare and COVID-19.

Preparedness Checklist for 2019-nCoV (CDC) Front-line healthcare personnel in the United States should be prepared to evaluate patients for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The link leads to a checklist that highlights key steps for healthcare personnel in preparation for transport and arrival of patients with confirmed or possible COVID-19.

Infection Control for Suspected 2019-nCoV Patients (WHO) This is the latest situation report authored by the World Health Organization. The discussions focused on continued collaboration to improve containment measures in Wuhan, to strengthen public health measures in other cities and provinces, to conduct further studies and transmissibility of the virus, to continue to share data, and for China to share biological material with WHO.

Frequently Asked Questions: 2019 Novel Coronavirus (CDC) This is a list of FAQ covering a wide range of areas. The answers are provided by CDC staff.

Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 – OSHA Publication 3990 This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards.