President Terry Melvin

2016 45th CBTU International Convention Call

I am pleased to issue the official convention call to the 45th International Convention of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU). This year the convention will be held in Washington, DC at the Washington Hilton Hotel, 1919 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009 from May 26-30, 2016. The theme is An Injury to One - An Injustice to All. All general convention sessions will be held at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

This year we are doing things a bit differently. We are facing tough challenges as a people, as a movement, and as an organization. Our goal for convention has always been to train, educate, and mobilize members. This year we are trying to add more trainings and expand on our mobilization. Brothers and sisters we must be prepared, we must be equipped, and must be ever diligent in these times.

Beginning on Tuesday, May 24th we will be offering the Carol Anderson Leadership Institute Training as well as Common Sense Economics - Criminal Justice Reform Train the Trainer. Both trainings require certain criteria, commitments, and pre-registration. On Wednesday, May 25th, back by popular demand, our Brother Bill Fletcher will be hosting an all day workshop/seminar entitled Understanding, Race, Racism, & Organized Labor in the USA. Seating is limited so pre-registration is required as well. We invite you to take full advantage of the opportunities offered this year.

Our theme encapsulates our current situation. Injustice is rampant for working men and women. Our speakers, panelists, and workshops will provide information as well as ways to get activated on a local level. I hope you join us either in person or via our live webstream from the website.

Registration for the 2016 convention can be done by downloading forms online at the CBTU website, www.cbtu.org.

Should you have any questions or need additional information, please call the CBTU International office at 202-778-3318 or email us at cbtu@cbtu.org.


2016: Soul Searching Our Identity

2016 is officially upon us. The candles have faded on 2015 as we usher in this New Year with new challenges. Every year brings its own set of trials and obstacles but 2016 brings a particularly difficult set of choices for us. We as a nation, as a country, as a collective, as a community are facing an identity crisis. As we look in the mirror of the New Year we must decide who that face is we see in the reflection. We as workers must decide what type of country we want to live and what values we want to stand for. The dilemma is clearly defined:

Criminal Justice: Are we a nation that has the world’s highest rates of incarceration, where convicts are determined by race and class? Are we ok with a penalization system versus a correctional model? Too many years and too much data have proven our criminal justice system is unjust. It is unjust to those incarcerated, it is unfair to those tasked to monitor inmates, it is unhealthy for our communities, and it is destructive to our families. So what type of justice do we need and are we going to continue to accept this inadequate model?

Jobs: Jobs are the fuel that keeps this country running. 2015 saw our fight for good jobs with the Fight for Fifteen and the opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Yet these good jobs are too few and rapidly exported. How do we claim to be this great nation when our leaders do everything to ensure no one can have healthy employment? Is America the country of underemployment or the land of opportunity? Policies, lobbyists, electeds, and the elite are answering this question for us. When will we begin to answer it for ourselves?

Race: Black Lives Matter. It has to be said because we are living through systemic devaluation of Black Lives. We are not a Color Blind Nation. We see race all too clearly. Will we continue to hide in shame of the slave legacy or shall we own our past to build a better future? We will never find a solution to this race problem if we continue to deny that a problem exists. We cannot fix the future if we deny our past.

Politics: Are we a country for all people or just an elite few? Do we elect leaders or fear mongers? Do we find comfort in our hate or in our diversity? We will elect a leader who will embody one of two visions of America. Which vision will it be? Will this person unite us under one banner or divide us with our fear?

It is up to us brothers and sisters to decide what our face looks like when we stare in the mirror. The battle is for our identity, it is for our soul, it is for our future. The clock is ticking as our children watch to see what America they will inherit when we pass it on. Let us use 2016 to put our best face forward for a better tomorrow. Let it be one that is built on hope and success instead of demagoguery and oppression.


Canadian Elections - Get Out and Vote

On October 19 Stephen Harper resigned as Conservative Party leader following a decisive electoral defeat in the Canadian Federal Election. Throughout the election, CBTU spoke out on the issues because our community knows that: All Black Lives Matter, carding and mass incarceration is an injustice, Fair Wages should be a right not a choice, trade unions lift workers’ wages and benefits, migrant workers deserve better labor standards, refugees should be welcomed, childcare promotes gender equality, climate change impacts upon our communities and access to education increases equality and job opportunities. . The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Ontario Canada Chapter issued a report card on each political party platform during the election and the Conservative Party consistently received the lowest scores. Voters resoundingly rejected Harper’s republican inspired promises to the wealthy and racist based appeals to “old stock” Canadians.

Since the beginning of election season CBTU Members have spoken out during open strategy sessions in Toronto, London, Ottawa and Halifax. Members spoke out in the media, sent messages through social media, knocked on doors, made calls and spoke to friends and neighbors one-to-one day in and day out. CBTU, Ontario Canada’s Black Votes Matter campaign reached over 10,000 voters with the support of the African Canadian Legal Clinic, Canadian Labour Congress, Ontario Federation of Labour and the Midaynta Community Services.

CBTU will not stop speaking out on the issues that matter to our community because of a Liberal majority government. We have learned too often that leaders campaign to do good and then become silent to our concerns when the economy is not doing well. CBTU intends to continue to work with our community partners, our labour allies and endorsed candidates both North and South of the border to fight for a society where we and our children no longer have to carry the weight of racial oppression. CBTU, Ontario Canada has already started planning our participation in the World Social Forum next year in Montreal and will continue to support spaces for ongoing resistance. Our ancestors fought and died to win the right to be human beings, to be given equal rights and we intend to continue that struggle until victory is won. Our Northern Brothers and Sisters showed us the way and set the bar for voting in 2015. CBTU members are remaining active and engaged. October 19th was a moment: not the end of our resistance to racial discrimination and struggle for social justice, fairness and equality. The struggle is our lives.


Black Trade Union Leaders Speak Out on The Future of the Labor Movement in New Report

Download 'A Future for Workers' Report

Washington, DC – A new 35-page white paper, "A Future for Workers: A Contribution From Black Labor," was released this week by the Black Labor Collaborative, a group of influential African American leaders from major labor organizations who offer a progressive critique and agenda to frame discussions about the direction of the American labor movement. This is a seismic development, because it is the first time representatives of 2.1 million black trade unionists have published a comprehensive outlook on organized labor.

The BLC report lands the same week that the AFL-CIO's Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice held its first meeting. It also comes amid an explosion of protests and activism in black communities and among low-wage black workers across the nation, demanding racial justice as well as economic justice. For example:

  • For the past 50 years, the unemployment rate for African American workers has been at least double that of their white counterparts.
  • At its lowest point, when white male median earnings dropped to $37,000 in 1981, it was still higher than the peak median earnings of $34,118 that black men reached in 2006 -- 25 years later.

In an executive summary that accompanies the report, the BLC calls for a “transformed labor movement,” noting that “the foe we face, in the political Right and global capitalism, demands a transformed and energized labor movement that can fight back with more than slogans of solidarity. No tinkering around the edges! A transformed movement must be authentically inclusive because diversity carries the strongest seeds of change, of untapped creativity.”

Rev. Terrence L. Melvin, one of the BLC conveners, said, “This is not about a ‘black agenda.’ This brief paper seeks to advance a broader discussion that is so badly needed: What is it that workers need and want, and how can it become the robust agenda that can truly rally the bottom 99% to collective action?”

Melvin, who is also president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), added, “We approach these questions in the voice of nearly 2.1 million African Americans in labor unions. We believe a frank and open conversation where diverse voices are heard can produce changes that will strengthen our movement and benefit all workers.”

Download 'A Future for Workers' Report

Download 'A Future for Workers' Report - Executive Summary

Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report - Media Coverage