#BlackWorkersMatter: Low Wages & Lack Of Organizing Plague Black Workers

May 5, 2015  |  

A new report by the Building Movement Project (BMP), investment must be made in Black leadership development to train and support the next generation of Black organizational leaders. The report, “Working While Black: The State of Black Worker Organizing in the U.S.,” (#BlackWorkersMatter) examines how the economic crisis affects Black communities, shares analysis on the Black jobs crisis, and promotes the organizing Black workers.

“When we say #BlackLivesMatter, we are also saying that the quality of those lives matters,” said Sean Thomas-Breitfeld, co-director of the Building Movement Project and one of the authors of the report. “Economic opportunity is fundamental to the quality of Black lives. Several years after the Great Recession, we see that Black workers are still facing a jobs crisis with no end in sight.”

Through interviews with 29 community organizers, national experts, and foundation staff the study not only looked at the roots of the problems but also offered recommendations.

One of the biggest problems facing Black workers is low wages. Between 1973 and 2013, while productivity increased by 74.4 percent, hourly compensation increased only 9.2 percent. “Between 2010 and 2012, 38.1 percent of black workers earned low-wages compared to 25.9 percent of white workers,” states the report.

The report encourages Black workers to organize for right now it is a very small and young field. The report interviewed 13 state and local organizations and only found three that were formed before 2005.

“Community and worker organizing is the only way for black workers to challenge the structural barriers that maintain and advance social, political, and economic inequality in Black communities,” said Thomas-Breitfeld. “Black workers need to build enough political and institutional power to change policies that have left black workers behind everyone else.”

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