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» babble   » walking the talk   » labour and consumption   » Blacks and U.S. Unions

Author Topic: Blacks and U.S. Unions
Babbler # 195

posted 23 October 2005 03:06 PM      Profile for robbie_dee     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Louis Uchitelle, "For Blacks, a Dream in Decline," New York Times 10/23/05

THE Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. set forth the goal. Civil rights and union membership were to be intertwined. The labor movement, Dr. King wrote in 1958, "must concentrate its powerful forces on bringing economic emancipation to white and Negro by organizing them together in social equality."

That happened in the 1960's and 1970's. But then unions lost bargaining power and members. And while labor leaders called attention to the overall decline, few took notice that blacks were losing much more ground than whites.

In the last five years, that trend accelerated. Despite a growing economy, the number of African-Americans in unions has fallen by 14.4 percent since 2000, while white membership is down 5.4 percent.

For a while in the 1980's, one out of every four black workers was a union member; now it is closer to one in seven. This loss of better-paying jobs helps to explain why blacks are doing worse than any other group in the current recovery. Labor leaders have acknowledged the disproportionate damage to African-Americans, but they decline to make special efforts to organize blacks and offset the decrease, saying that all groups need help. That lack of priority angers one prominent black scholar.

"The future of black workers is very bleak indeed if they lose their place in the union movement," said William Julius Wilson, a professor of sociology and social policy at Harvard. "I would hope there would be an effort on the part of union leaders, white and black, to address this very important issue. They haven't done so as yet."

From: Iron City | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged

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