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Ken Neumann Statement on Black History Month (2018)

In our union’s proud history of promoting and supporting equality, Steelworkers celebrate Black History Month annually. We celebrate the accomplishments of black Canadian people in society, acknowledge the achievements of activists in our union and encourage Steelworkers to continue the struggle for equality. We are beginning to recognize that despite advances in equality, racism has played a historic part in our national experience. This experience has also led to discrimination against black immigrants and Canadians in our workplaces.

Internationally, Steelworkers support the UN General Assembly’s implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015–2024), and accordingly, the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. 

Nationally, I would like to draw your attention to the newly formed Federation of Black Canadians (FBC), a national, non-profit organization, driven by Black organizations across the country. The federation advances the social, economic, political and cultural interests of Canadians of African descent. We see the FBC as a valuable support for the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU).   

Within our own union, I am proud that our member activism for equality-seeking groups is mandated by our constitution, requiring each local to establish a human rights committee.  

Beyond celebrating Black History Month in February, we as Steelworkers must continue to support racial equality each day in our workplaces and communities. 

I know that activism is driven by our membership in our workplaces and communities. During Black History Month, I urge all of our racialized activists and allies to: 

  • Create a Human Rights Committee in your local or unit by using the mandate in the USW Constitution’s Article VII, Section 12
  • Work with organizations such as the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU)
  • Stand up and speak out on your own against racist comments and jokes in our communities and workplaces
  • Join the New Democratic Party, whether federally or provincially, to contribute to the elimination of racial discrimination

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

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