The 34th International CBTU Convention

I am pleased and honored to issue the OFFICIAL CONVENTION CALL for the 34th International Convention of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. The dates are May 25-May 30, 2005. The convention will be held in Phoenix, Arizona, one of the fastest growing cities in the southwest. The headquarters hotel is the Wynham Phoenix Hotel, and the Hyatt Phoenix will accommodate the overflow attendees. The general convention sessions will be held at the Phoenix Civic Plaza.

The theme for this convention is “CBTU: Forging a New Vision for Tough Challenges Ahead.” On many levels, this year’s convention will set in motion the strategic direction for CBTU for many years to come. We must deal not only with four more years of an administration that is openly hostile to labor rights, civil rights, and civil liberties, we must also come to grips with an emboldened conservative movement that is determined to impose its right-wing agenda everywhere, from the White House to MTV.

We also have a responsibility to make our voice heard in the crucial debate taking place now on how to make the labor movement broader, more powerful and more relevant to the lives of working families, especially in communities of color, the fastest growing sector of the labor force. Let me say that it would be a serious “omission” for any of the sincere and articulate advocates of reform to assume what is in the best interest of black trade unionists and the coalition partners with whom we work regularly.

It is essential, therefore, that we emerge from this convention with a clear and compelling vision, an action plan for change and empowerment, and our members energized by a renewed commitment to help CBTU exceed our past success and meet the tough challenges ahead.
We will have a lot on our plate in the general sessions, workshops, the national women’s conference, retirees’ conference, youth conference and the community toxic seminar. We will also hold several special plenary forums and a town hall meeting to collectively address issues that impact our interests, such as the 2004 election and the black vote; African American-Latino relations; the future of organized labor; trade and jobs; and solidarity with African and Caribbean workers movements, and more.

Of course, no CBTU convention would be complete without such attractions as our gospel concert, Sunday worship service, and awards dinner – this year with a “soulful” southwestern flavor.

I call on all unions to maximize membership participation and delegate participation from their national, regional, and local levels to help make this convention a resounding success. I look forward to seeing you in Phoenix.