Steven Pitts

Steven C. Pitts is a labor-policy specialist at the University of California, Berkeley, Center for Labor Research and Education.

Recent Articles

Unionization and Black Workers

Trade unions are still a key path to higher-quality jobs and greater dignity at the workplace.

In much of the media coverage of the presidential campaign, unions and the black community are portrayed as separate groups without common members or common interests. In fact, black workers are disproportionately union members. In 2007, 12.1 percent of all workers (16 years or older) held union cards, while 14.3 percent of black workers were union members. Beyond these numbers, the black struggle for freedom and equality has always seen unions as a fundamental instrument for achieving its goals, even though at times some unions discriminated against blacks. In the aftermath of a police attack on striking Memphis sanitation workers on February 23, 1968 -- the strike that brought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis -- black marchers began holding signs proclaiming, "I am a Man." That simple slogan carried the profound sentiment that central to the civil-rights movement was the assertion of a basic humanity that had been denied blacks in this country since the writing of the U.S...