When I became General President of the IUPAT it was right before the Building Trades Legislative Conference in 2013. And so as a president of the IUPAT I’m on the dais with the other presidents and it wasn’t lost on me that yeah I was the only African American...person of color...on the podium. I got that. But here’s what happened.
That’s Kenneth Rigmaiden, president of the Painters union, on the latest episode of the AFL-CIO’s “State of the Unions” podcast, where he details his journey from a floor-covering installer to the highest ranks of the labor movement, his experiences with racism and discrimination, the opportunities he seized and his commitment to the next generation of union members, activists and leaders.
I’m just at the podium. The convention hadn't even started yet. And I’m standing up for a little bit. I sat down and I was having a drink of water. And all of the sudden people started coming up to the podium. They were black, male and female, they were white, male and female, they were Latinx, male and female, Asian. And they all said kind of like the same thing. I never thought I would see this. And that’s when it hit me like a sledgehammer that it wasn’t just African Americans. It was people...black, brown, white, Asian, male, female coming up and saying that and acknowledging that. To me that was a start.
On today’s labor calendar, if you missed last week’s screening of “Power to Heal: Medicare and the Civil Rights Revolution,” you can catch it tonight at the Shirlington Busboys and Poets starting at 6pm. Admission is free, but you must RSVP online at dclabor.org, click on Calendar.
In today’s labor history, on this date in 2004, a 20-week strike by 70,000 Southern California supermarket workers ended, with both sides claiming victory.
Today’s labor quote is by Abraham Lincoln, who said:
“I am glad to see that a system of labor prevails under which laborers can strike when they want to. … I like the system which lets a man quit when he wants and wish it might prevail everywhere.”
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