Unions Take Up the Fight for Racial Justice

May 21, 2021 / PSU-AAUP


by Stephanie Luce

May 19, 2021

The labor movement will not survive at all, let alone build power, without a serious racial analysis and making racial justice key to their core mission.

Last summer, the U.S. saw perhaps its largest uprising in its history, as people took to the streets to demand justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and support for the Movement for Black Lives. “After months of isolation, I think people wanted to be together with other folks,” says Lauren Jacobs, executive director of the Partnership for Working Families. “The lesson from Black Lives Matter and this uprising happening in small towns that nobody had ever seen a protest in is there are many people who felt and took action because, ‘I don’t want to be in a world with racist inequality and racist violence.’”

Labor organizations are taking up the fight for racial justice in many ways. They’re developing in-depth member education on racial capitalism. They’re using bargaining to address structural racism and developing new leadership.

Much has already been written about the work done by teachers unions, particularly in Chicago and Los Angeles. The Milwaukee Teachers Union also has centered racial justice in its core mission, which helped them keep the union strong even after Governor Scott Walker stripped them of many of their rights. Teachers unions in many other cities have bargained over racial justice issues and supported the Black Lives Matter at School initiative.

This article will look at a few other promising approaches.

Read more at OrgUp

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