The work of confronting racism, white supremacy must continue
(March 1, 2021) — For the past month, the Washington State Labor Council and its affiliated unions have been celebrating Black History Month by honoring Black leaders, past and present, in Washington’s labor movement.
The images describing those leaders and their nominees have been shared on social media using #LaborCelebratesBHM, but they have also been archived at the WSLC website, where they can be continue to be reviewed and shared now and throughout the year. Check out the WSLC’s Black History Month 2021.
Here is the final image, posted over the weekend, of the WSLC’s own Secretary Treasurer April Sims as nominated by her daughter, Machinists union member Jasmyne:
“Born and raised in Tacoma Washington, April Sims inspires activism not only in Washington, but throughout the entire country. Specifically, she inspires me.
“I’ve been watching my mother fight for working families for as long as I can remember. At the age of 10, and during her time with WFSE as an organizer, our Saturday’s were best spent knocking on doors and advocating for candidates that would stand up for working class people. Tuesday nights were often spent in phone banks, Mom was always sure to provide us with boxes of pizza and her hunger to see change.
“Even now that I’m older, April Sims never stops inspiring me. Her commitment to social justice motivates me daily in my own activism. As the first Black Woman to be elected as Secretary Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, she hasn’t stopped there. She also serves as an administrative law judge in her capacity as a member of the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council, and dedicates much of her time to her work on the Washington State Redistricting Commission. Even more inspiring then all of her titles is her passion for racial justice, and the work she puts in every day to make the the Washington State Labor Council an anti- racist organization.
“April Sims deserves recognition not only for her life long commitments to social justice and workers rights, but also for her willingness to create space and break down barriers that I will some day be able to walk through. But above all, April Sims deserves recognition for being everything she is: a revolutionary, a trouble maker, and most importantly, my mom.”
Jasmyne Sims, Ramp Agent, IAM
Black History Month has been a time of celebration, but the work of confronting systemic racism and white supremacy must continue beyond February. Here are three ways you can take action:
1. Call your senators and tell them to pass the PRO Act.
A union contract is the single best tool we have to close racial and gender wage gaps. And expanded collective bargaining will increase protections for people who have been marginalized, especially when laws do not.
The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act will empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize and bargain.
Call U.S. Sens. Patty Murray (202-224-2621) and Maria Cantwell (202-224-3441) and thank them for their sponsorship of the PRO Act and urge them to support its passage as soon as possible.
Also, support the WSLC’s 2021 Worker Recovery Agenda, which includes proposed legislation of particular importance to Black and brown workers, like the Worker Protection Act and policing reform.
2. Show up for Black-led organizations and mutual aid groups.
Black-led grassroots organizations across the country work tirelessly throughout the year, fighting for racial justice and helping in communities. Mutual aid groups are providing resources for people experiencing houselessness or food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Participate in direct actions. Give money to be redistributed through mutual aid.
3. Continue learning about anti-racism beyond February 2021.
If we want to dismantle systems of racism, we must do the work beyond this month. There are many anti-racism resources available as books, articles, podcasts and other forms of media.
Listen to what people of color are saying about their experiences and needs. Learning and talking about race can be uncomfortable, but discomfort is necessary for change.
For more information, visit the WSLC’s Race and Labor page.