February is Black History Month

February 1, 2019 - Black History Month gives us the opportunity to recognize the contributions of the black community throughout the country.

Celebrating difference is part of our Local’s mission

“Having an understanding about different cultures is vital in creating an inclusive environment where everyone can participate freely and be treated fairly,” said Isabelle Miller, President of USW Local 1944. “This is why Black History Month matters for our Local, and this is why we encourage members to attend this month’s events. This month and throughout the year, I invite our members to learn more about the history of the black community in Canada. By celebrating our differences, we can enrich the diversity in our workplaces, Union, and communities.”

“The principles of equality are essential in Steelworker solidarity in our workplaces, and, social justice in our communities,” said Ken Neumann, National Director for Canada of the United Steelworkers. “I ask all Steelworkers to join me in celebrating Black History Month this February. Beyond that, I urge you to always continue the fight for equality.” (Read the full statement at http://1944.fyi/Jz0ITi).

“In addition to celebration, it is also important to note that racism plays a significant role in hiring, job opportunities and promotion,” said Marty Warren, Director for District 6. “Day to day, black workers and other racialized people face harassment through racist jokes and stereotypical treatment. In more extreme cases, verbal and physical violence are included.” (Read the full statement at http://1944.fyi/D2TzLZ).

Get informed, Get involved

Last year, the Canadian Labour Congress hosted a series of podcasts to commemorate Black History Month, including a French podcast with USW Local 1944 President Isabelle Miller speaking about people of colour in the labour movement. The podcasts are available at http://1944.fyi/dsDhXw (English) and http://1944.fyi/jm29Bk (French).

“It is important for unions to offer sufficient mentoring opportunities, and to enable people of colour to get education and to attend conferences,” said Isabelle Miller. “When a union is not inclusive of all its members, racialized workers won’t take part in the union events. As a result, the union undermines itself. We have to reach out to people from other cultures and tell them: ‘We want you to take part in our actions’.”

On Sunday, February 3, 2019, Sister Miller will be a panelist at the 2019 National Black Canadians Summit “Mapping Our Future – Face To Face With Our Lawmakers”. She will be speaking on the theme ‘Labour and Systemic Racism: Black in the Workplace’. The event is free. For more information, please visit the Facebook event page: http://1944.fyi/YBghCY.

Many events are organized to celebrate Black History Month throughout Canada. The Civil and Human Rights Committee encourages our members to check the listing in your local communities to join in.

There are many ways to take action during Black History Month and throughout the year:

  • Joining the New Democratic Party to support legislation for creating and amending human rights and workplace safety laws.
  • Creating a Human Rights Committee in your Unit by using the mandate in the USW Constitution’s Article VII, Section 12.
  • Introducing and strengthening anti-racism language in collective bargaining.
  • Working with organizations such as the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU).
  • Join with like-minded labour and community allies to stop racial profiling by police.
  • Promote and attend Steelworker education workshops on human rights and anti-harassment in the workplace.
  • Lobby federal, provincial and municipal politicians to bring in equality legislation increasing protections against religious and race hatred.

In Solidarity,

USW Local 1944