Black trade unionists across the U.S. are calling on the labor movement to defend Black Lives Matter protesters and to fight racism in their own ranks. The attacks by police and increasingly violent armed racist militias evoke the memory of many such violent incidents against Black people in earlier periods, from slavery to segregation to the civil rights era.
For Labor Day 2020, Truthout reached out to Christopher Silvera, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 808 in Long Island City, NY; Elise Bryant, executive director of Labor Heritage Foundation and president of the Communication Workers of America’s Coalition of Labor Union Women in Washington, D.C.; and Cleo Silvers, a former member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in Detroit in the 1970’s and member retiree of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) District 1199 in New York City, for their analyses and thoughts on preparation for community defense.
Fighting Racism in Labor’s Ranks
Christopher Silvera has found that members of his union who are in what he terms “the militia mindset” have the exact same demands as unions — wages, pensions and healthcare — but their solutions are based on white supremacy.