Since the earliest days of this nation when democracy was built on racial exploitation, black workers have risked their lives to protect and empower their communities through agitation, collective action and faith. The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists proudly carries that tradition into the 21st century.
CBTU is not a black separatist or civil rights organization. It is the fiercely independent voice of black workers within the trade union movement, challenging organized labor to be more relevant to the needs and aspirations of Black and poor workers.
At the same time, CBTU is recognized as a potent economic and political force within the African American community. One of every five black workers (20%) belongs to a union, and black union members earn 40 percent more than do non-union black workers. In the political arena, CBTU has leveraged the vast resources of unions to mobilize black voters to influence elections and public policy at every level of government.
And long before globalization caught the attention of America’s working families, CBTU was challenging the gaping disparity of wealth, power and living standards throughout the world, especially in African and Caribbean countries. CBTU also was the first American labor organization to actively oppose white minority rule in Southern Africa. CBTU has been the catalyst for actions against other human rights violators as well.
Since its founding conference in 1972, CBTU’s stature among African American workers has grown. Currently, more than 50 different international and national unions are represented in CBTU. With 50 chapters nationwide and one in Ontario, Canada, CBTU is maximizing the strength and influence of black workers in unions and empowering their communities.
Membership in CBTU is strictly voluntary. Only active or retired members of bona fide unions can join CBTU.