Honoring Leaders Who Moved From Words To Action
A Letter from President Walker
Black History Month gives us an opportunity to remember the accomplishments of ordinary people who recognized that change doesn’t just happen but comes only when we are willing to risk ourselves for justice. Ordinary people exhibiting extraordinary bravery in the arena of civil rights, economic and social justice.
In the 1920’s, A. Philip Randolph inspired millions of African-American trade unionists to organize and formed The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP). BSCP was the first labor organization led by African-Americans to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Randolph and the employees of the Pullman Company understood they needed to do whatever it took to achieve racial, economic and social justice. And in that process, these everyday people, themselves, became leaders by example.
This is an important lesson for us as Local 1000 members and leaders preparing to bargain a new contract. We can spend months coming up with perfect proposals, based on perfect research and input from our members, but the question is, what are we willing to do to win?
Stepping into the arena
Without the civil rights movement, nothing would have changed . The social and economic justice we enjoy today—and strive to improve—wouldn’t exist if people of every creed and color hadn’t joined together to say, “ This is not what we want in America.” These brave souls stepped into the arena, gathered their armies and made change happen.
Today, we can—and must—do the same thing as union members. We have to be willing to stand collectively, to fight together, to achieve change and accomplish our own dreams. We must be willing to go beyond words and take action. Fredrick Douglass said “ Power concedes nothing without a demand.”
How will we protect our hard-earned rights? How will we achieve our demands as state workers? How will we fulfill the Local 1000 Purpose Statement and “achieve social, economic and environmental justice for all”?
Let’s take inspiration from those who went before us. Let’s step into the arena, move beyond conversations and take action for what we want.
Yvonne R. Walker
President Local 1000