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The death of George Floyd and organized labor’s mixed history on race relations: What the next chapter may look like

By Dr. Jim Castagnera, Esq.

Organized labor nonetheless has a historic opportunity to redeem its uglier chapters.

Race arguably has been the most virulent and tenacious domestic problem in all of American history. Despite the ’64 Civil Rights Act and the ’65 Voting Rights Act, race remains our most divisive demographic. As champions of working people, labor unions—one might reasonably have hoped—would be bridges across the racial divide. Historically (as is also true on the management side), this often has not been the case.

Despite some noteworthy success stories, a racial divide still haunts organized labor to at least a limited degree. And while organized labor and African-American interest groups may be coming as close to renewing their 1960s alliance as ever they have in the past half century, the glaring exception seems to be the unions representing state and local safety forces. According to Castagnera, organized labor nonetheless now has a historic opportunity to redeem its uglier chapters.

Jim Castagnera’s latest Labor Pulse article is “The death of George Floyd and organized labor’s mixed history on race relations: What the next chapter may look like.”