MRLF to launch local Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice
|Union members advocating for the creation of the MRLF’s Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice (left to right): JoAnn Campbell-Sudduth, Education Minnesota retiree; Cathy Jones, NALC Branch 9 member; Mary Turner, president, Minnesota Nurses Association; Marie Dino, AFSCME Local 3800 member.
From the Minneapolis Labor Review
July 29, 2016
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation is preparing to launch a local Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice.
The Commission is an outgrowth of the work of the MRLF’s People of Color Union Members (POCUM) caucus and a follow-up to the February 2016 visit to Minneapolis by the national AFL-CIO’s Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice.
Union members presented the local Commission proposal to the MRLF delegate meeting July 13.
Cathy Jones, member of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 9, explained: “What can we do, going forward, to make sure people of color’s voices are heard? We thought it would be a great idea to form a Labor Commission within the MRLF.”
As presented to the MRLF delegate meeting, goals of the Commission will be to:
• Foster unity in the local labor movement related to issues of race equity;
• Increase community affinity for the union movement and encourage worker organizing as solutions to racial and economic injustice in our state;
• Help facilitate more members of color into leadership positions;
• Advise the MRLF and its affiliated unions on local policy issues, internal organizing, external organizing, community partnerships and workforce development.
“The plan has a lot to do with who we are as union members,” said JoAnn Campbell Sudduth, Education Minnesota retiree. “It affects every single one of us.”
Mary Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, explained how the Commission will take shape. The Commission will be co-chaired by MRLF president Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou and an appointee of POCUM. They will name 12-16 union members to the Commission, of which at least one-half will be people of color. The Commission also will include a diverse membership including immigrants, women, young people, union leaders, rank and file members and public and private sector union members.
The Commission will report to the MRLF executive board and delegate body.
The July 13 MRLF delegate meeting came exactly one week after the police shooting of union member Philando Castile, which gave the Labor Commission proposal added urgency.
“We have a role to play in the response,” said MRLF president Glaubitz Gabiou, “to make sure our power is being used for racial justice.”