Press Release | Civil Rights

AFL-CIO Celebrates Moment of Silence for Sanitation Workers and Honors Black Workers Month

Today, as America celebrates the start of Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is reaffirming its commitment to fighting for black workers who make up such a vital part of our union movement.

As part of Black History and Workers Month, the AFL-CIO also recognizes the harsh realities black workers face every day that stem from systemic racism and unemployment. Black workers are disproportionately impacted by bad trade deals and an economic race to the bottom. Coordinated attacks against black workers—including repeated “right to work” legislation and the Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31—are among the most direct examples of special interests trying to divide and weaken working people.

“It is critical that a modern labor union movement be a leader in the fight for black workers,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “The AFL-CIO is committed to listening to the challenges that you don’t really understand unless you live them and holding open-ended conversations about the roots of discrimination.”

The AFL-CIO Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice has held meetings in cities across the country and had conversations with more than 15,000 union members about how racism and other forms of discrimination have been used to divide and weaken working people.

Today, Feb. 1, the AFL-CIO will join thousands of working people across the country in a moment of silence to honor sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker, who were crushed to death in a malfunctioning sanitation truck as they took shelter from a torrential downpour.

That tragedy 50 years ago triggered the strike of the city’s 1,300 sanitation workers. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated on April 4, 1968, while supporting those striking workers. The AFL-CIO is proud to join with AFSCME’s “I AM 2018” movement honoring the sacrifices of so many.

The federation is participating in numerous events, including hosting a photography exhibit and participating in social activism throughout the month.

Contact: Carolyn Bobb (202) 637-5018