As moves to decrease unemployment in the United States falter each quarter and the creation of livable wage, full-time jobs, becomes myth, GRITtv has been examining work in American culture and the current state of labor. The AFL-CIO convention held in the beginning of September sought to formally build bridges with workers centers, and union affiliates to address a national crisis: high unemployment in the U.S. and the unstable base on which workers in America find themselves.
The AFL-CIO made a few resolutions this year, one of which was being proactive in ending mass incarceration. Mass incarceration has devastated poor communities and communities of color, particularly Black men, and limits the access to quality jobs post prison. Within organized labor, Black unionized workers occupy a incongruous space: Black union density is high and yet they suffer higher unemployment rates than any other racial group. In a 2012 study by the UC Berkeley Center 13.1% of all Black workers in the United States were unionized, while 11% of non-Black workers were union members.
"Oftentimes in these battles for good jobs Blacks become invisible." said Steven Pitts a labor policy advisor at the UC Berkeley Labor Center who spoke with GRITtv at the AFL-CIO convention. Days before the AFL-CIO convention was too place, the first Black Workers Congress, hosted by the Los Angeles Black Workers Center, was held to celebrate the victories around local hiring and the framework used through which they were able to make these achievements, especially when it came to maintaining a diverse body within local hiring.
Pitts goes on to address the necessity of organizing in and with community members and the importance of working together.