New Report on Black Workers and Unions; NYC Supports Child Citizen Protection Act

By Jonathan Adams Mar 31, 2008

Honoring Dr. King’s Commitment to Unions–40th Anniversary of Assassination in Memphis while Supporting Strike(pdf) Forty years ago this week—on April 4, 1968—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, while he was in Memphis supporting the unionization of African American sanitation workers. As he said the night before he was shot, amidst the soaring oratory of his historic “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech: “The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants.” To commemorate Dr. King’s commitment to unionization, the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) are releasing new data about unionization among blacks in the nation and in New York State. “Unionization remains a critically important way for African Americans, and for all workers, to improve wages and working conditions,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, senior fellow of the Fiscal Policy Institute. “African Americans face so many barriers in the workplace, it’s great to see that this is one economic indicator by which blacks are faring better than the overall population.” Nationwide, 16 percent of black Americans are covered by a union contract, slightly more than the unionization rate for all workers in the U.S. of 14 percent, according to the CEPR analysis of pooled data for 2004-2007. The analysis includes both public and private sector workers. NYC Council Urges Congress: Pass the Child Citizen Protection Act, Fix Broken Deportation System Last Wednesday evening, the New York City Council passed through a near-unanimous voice vote a resolution in support of the Child Citizen Protection Act (H.R. 1176). Sponsored by Council Members Inez Dickens and Joel Rivera, Resolution 1250 is the strongest admonishment by local elected leaders on the federal deportation system: “Although a person born in the United States automatically obtains citizenship status, there are millions of U.S. born children whose parents are not citizens. Should the non-citizen parents be subject to removal, deportation or exclusion, there is a risk of destroying the family unit.” Betsy Dewitt, an organizer for Families for Freedom, testified at the City Council hearing about how her own husband’s deportation has devastated her three American-born children. She rejoiced at the resolution’s passage: “The Child Citizen Protection Act has been the best kept secret in the immigration debate. We hope that our City Council’s stand moves our Senators to introduce the bill in the Senate. Deportation is the cruelest, most broken part of the nation’s immigration system.” Families for Freedom is working with a growing number of partners against raids and deportations and to pass similar resolutions in large cities around the country.