AFL-CIO, AFM Call for Diversity

By Folio, Sam | International Musician, October 2009 | Go to article overview

AFL-CIO, AFM Call for Diversity


Folio, Sam, International Musician


The AFL-CIO meets every four years with the rare historic opportunity that offers the labor movement and its workers the possibility of rebuilding the middle class.

At the 2005 AFL-CIO convention the delegates called for a "diverse movement and a diverse leadership," which was a call for international unions to take steps to achieve diversity in leadership and throughout their organizations. It was obvious to me that the movement took it seriously, because the diversity meeting was well-attended prior to the 2009 AFL-CIO convention in September. The call for diversity was based on the voices of constituent groups, including A. Philip Randolph Institute, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, AFL-CIO constituency group for community action Pride at Work, union members of color, as well as women members, backed up by surveys and polling.

In 2005 more than 40% of members were women and nearly one third of the AFL-CIO members were people of color. An excerpt from the study, "Organizing Women," by Kate Bronfenbrenner says the nature and process of organizing efforts among women workers since the mid 1990s found that women and people of color are most likely to champion and join unions mainly because they have been on the short end of the stick.

Union women earn 31% more than nonunion women, African American union members earn 28% more than their nonunion counterparts, and the union pay advantage for Latino workers is 43% higher. …

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