As we celebrate Black History Month, it’s important to honor the contributions of our strong American heros, from Harriet Tubman to Martin Luther King, Jr. to Shirley Chisholm to Ruben Burks. and Lansing’s own Malcolm X.
Outspoken leaders often face resistance both from the powers that be and from within their own ranks. However, despite the adversity and challenges they face, those who are passionate about their cause keep going. They often fail and face retribution, but they continue to do the right thing.
The courage of the Flint sit-down strikers in brought about better working conditions, higher wages and improved safety. Most importantly, the few workers who had the audacity and conviction to take action (less than 10% of the plant was unionized) impacted not only their site, but legitimized union agreements at all GM plants.
I encourage all of us at the Lansing CCA to have the courage to be a leader. Though retaliation is prohibited by our national agreement, backlash is always a risk. However, if we all follow the examples set by the leaders who came before us and are not afraid to do what is right, our union will be stronger. We must all come together for our common good in order to sustain our rights and protect the workers who come after us.
In conclusion, I would like to thank our current leaders , our past leaders and our future leaders. Thank you to the families of Ray Whitford and Hollis Barker who made sacrifices so they could lead our Local. They will be missed.