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"Under 40" Committee Workshop:
Transcript of "Under 40" Committee Workshop:
Learning from our CBTU
History & Mentors
by Ronieka Burns & Isabelle Miller
CBTU 43rd International Convention, Atlanta, GA
A people without knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots
- Marcus Garvey
Five African American labor leaders organized the founding conference of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists in Chicago in 1972. Alarmed that the AFL-CIO Executive Council had taken a "neutral" position in the presidential election between incumbent Richard Nixon and challenger George McGovern, the conference was organized to discuss black workers' concerns that unions were ignoring their interests, and provide black workers with a voice in organized labor. It was the largest gathering of African Americans in labor movement history with 1200 activists present.
History of CBTU
William Lucy: International Secretary-Treasurer, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
Nelson "Jack" Edwards: Vice President, United Auto Workers
William Simons: President, Washington Teachers Union, Local 6
Charles A. Hayes: Vice President, United Food & Commercial Workers Union
Cleveland Robinson: President, Distributive Workers of America, District 65
William (Bill) Lucy became the founding President of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), at the age of 41, and remained President until 2012 when he took on the role of President Emeritus. An admired labor activist, Lucy was instrumental in leading the CBTU garnering global and grassroots respect as a catalyst for progressive change.
He guided CBTU's rapid expansion into an International organization at the turn of the century, from 27 chapters in the USA in 1991 to more than 50 chapters, including a chapter in Ontario, Canada.
A new era dawned in the labor movement when Rev. Terrence (Terry) L. Melvin was acclaimed as the new International President of the CBTU at their 2012 convention in St. Louis, MO at the age of 40.
Melvin continues to lead a stellar career in labor as the Secretary-Treasurer of the powerful NY State AFL-CIO, and is revered by many for his moving speeches on workers' rights.
Terry Melvin, CBTU International President
“We cannot rely on CBTU’s golden legacy to protect our collective bargaining rights today. We must fight like hell now– again and again.”
- Terry Melvin
The Ontario/Canada Chapter is the 1st International Chapter of the CBTU, and was founded in 1995 by Beverley Johnson, Jay Nair, Ann Newman, Dory Smith, and its founding President June Veecock.
Originally independently called the Ontario Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (OCBTU), which was formed in the late 1980s, the group's membership included black workers from both public and private sector unions who wanted a forum in which to voice their concerns about racism in the workplaces and in unions, the need for supports systems, and a desire to ensure that the under-representation of blacks and other workers of colour on the staffs of unions was corrected.
They pushed for the designation of equity seats on union executive boards across Canada.
The members of the CBTU Ontario Canada Chapter have continued to make great strides in the labor movement by creating a safe haven for workers of color to share their experiences with others. They've developed strategies to push unions to diversify their leadership, and mentor young black workers to take leadership positions within their unions and the Chapter, with the help of the CBTU.
What Role Do
Play at Convention and Beyond?
who allows you to see the higher part of yourself when sometimes it becomes hidden to your own view.
I think mentors are important and I don't think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship. Nobody makes it alone. Nobody has made it alone. And we are all mentors to people even when we don't know it."
- Oprah Winfrey
"A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself. A mentor is someone who allows you to know that no matter how dark the night, in the morning joy will come. A mentor is someone
What is a Mentor?
Mentor, men·tor, ˈmenˌtôr,-tər/, Noun
A mentor is a more experienced (typically older) professional in your field who offers you career guidance, advice and assistance from a real world point-of-view.
Mentoring is a powerful personal development and empowerment tool. It is an effective way of helping people to progress in their careers and is becoming increasing popular as its potential is realized.
It is a nurturing, and
helpful relationship between two people
(mentor and mentee) based upon
mutual trust and respect.
Having a mentor in your Chapter offers you the advantage to learn from their experience. A good mentor is wise and willing to share his or her knowledge and experiences in order to help you succeed by innovation, not imitation.
A mentor can inspire you to grow and think big, both in your career and for the betterment of your CBTU Chapter. They can help you overcome workplace challenges, learn new skills or simply offer an outside perspective when you’re facing frustrations at work.
The best mentor you can find is the man or woman who really has “been there” in your field; mentors know what it takes to succeed, and can help you on your path to becoming a young leader in the black community.
Why do the "Under 40" need a mentor?
Do you have a Mentor Within CBTU?
In order for young leaders under 40 to move forward successfully, they need to have a mentor within CBTU.
If you do not have a personal mentor within CBTU, please find someone in your Chapter you can learn from and ask them to mentor you.
“Where Do We Go From Here”
Under 40 group needs to get more involved within CBTU at all levels: Chapter, Regional, & International. Ask your Chapter President to be put on committees, or create designated seats for Young Leaders Under 40. Make your presence known.
It’s our time to continue the movement of CBTU. The basic objectives of the CBTU are reflected in its activities and projects; help your Chapter find ways of sustaining the activities and good works of the CBTU by building up and demonstrating your leadership skills.
Work within the framework of the trade union movement to create louder voices for Young Leaders Under 40.
Increase union involvement in voter registration, education and turnout projects.
Increase effective political alliances between labor, churches and the general community. It isn't about pushing anyone out; it's about building up together.
Stand up & Show OUT!!!! TIME TO SHINE!!!
There are several committees within CBTU that are awaiting your help and involvement as a Young Leader Under 40, such as:
Community Action and Response Against Toxics (CARAT)
Youth Committee, etc
You can also ask to host workshops or events within you
Chapter, your Regional Conference, or even the
We Hope You Enjoyed of Presentation!
Ronieka Burns, 1199 SEIU,
CBTU Rochester Chapter Young Workers Chair
Isabelle Miller, TWU National Executive Officer,
Ontario Canada Chapter Communications Secretary
Your Young Leaders Under 40 Presenters:
Go From Here?
- Handouts available outlining impacts of mentoring across three generations of black leaders in their fields