Celebrate Juneteenth but Know The Truth!

Celebrate Juneteenth but Know The Truth!

History teaches us that on September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing more than three million black slaves in the Confederate states as of January 1, 1863.

It also teaches us that On April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered his 28,000 Confederate troops to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, in Appomattox, Virginia, effectively ending the American Civil War. What it doesn’t tell us is that both of those accepted “historical facts” are incorrect.

Slavery in the Confederate states was technically ended by the Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863, but many African Americans remained unaware and still being held against their will till June 19, 1865. The next year, in 1866, formerly enslaved Black Texans began celebrating the occasion now known as Juneteenth.

Juneteenth is a portmanteau of the words June and nineteenth, and references June 19, 1865, the day that enslaved African Americans were actually emancipated in every part of the United States. Celebrated by African Americans since the late 1800s, it wasn’t until recently that it became more widely known outside of the Black community, finally becoming a federal holiday in 2021.

Ultimately, Juneteenth is an opportunity… It is an opportunity to begin getting history right. We have to amend the story, where the story was told with bias and disregard for the truth, because anything built on something other than the truth cannot long endure.

But most importantly, Juneteenth is an opportunity to reflect on all the ways our society has deprived (and in many ways, continues to deprive) Black Americans of their freedom and humanity, from slavery to segregation and beyond.

Yes, it is a day to celebrate freedom for all, but because of it, we must persist in seeking and telling the truth. We must amend our history where it is flawed and biased so we might shine a light on the power of justice and pray for continued change in the future.

Maybe something like this prayer from the Evangelical Lutheran Church Association which focuses on finding ways to identify and work against modern discrimination, racism, and hatred.

Dear God,

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like those generations before us who resisted the evil of slavery and human bondage in any form and any manner of oppression.

Help us to use our freedoms to bring justice among people and nations everywhere to the glory of your holy name through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Have a safe, happy, and blessed Juneteenth!

Labor Takes Pride in Our Work, And in Each Other — No Matter Who You Love!

By Brian Griffin, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council

Organized Labor is the American Melting Pot. It is the single most reflective body of what these United States actually look like. We are the face of America, and America’s face continues to change and evolve. Not only do we look like America, but we also fight for all working people, because America’s real diversity is on full display in the rank and file of The Labor Movement — no matter the race, creed, gender, ethnicity, or any other identity.

It is simply a Human Right that all people should be safe and free from harm, discrimination, violence, and abuse, whether at home, in the workplace, in their community, wherever they choose to exercise the individual liberties and freedoms promised them by this great American Experiment. However, it isn’t enough that LGBTQ+ people still lack basic federal legal protections in the workplace, which make them vulnerable to recent appalling and shameful actions by state legislatures. In recent months, the LGBTQ+ Community has once again become the unfortunate focus of opportunistic politicians on the right that threaten to take us backward after decades of forward progress, inclusion, and freedom to love whomever a person loves.

Unfortunately, anti-LGBTQ+ attacks by right-wing extremist groups have surged, and anti-trans politics spurred by lawmakers and far-right news outlets have renewed fears and once more threaten the community’s safety. But despite the noise generated by the right wing, polls suggest they are at odds with the vast majority of real Americans. In March, a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 76% of Americans – including 62% of Republicans – favor laws that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans from discrimination in jobs, housing, and public accommodation.

And thankfully, The American Labor Movement is fighting back with everything we have. Union contracts, legally enforceable in every state, protect LGBTQ+ workers from harassment and can mean real progress for workers and our families to gain health care, savings, a future, and so much more. Check out some model contract language from our constituency group, Pride at Work

However, we still have a long way to go, and it will take all of us to secure the change we seek. Far too often, LGBTQ+ workers face retaliation and fear getting fired for standing with their co-workers. We still regularly see the same corporations that use Pride as a marketing ploy, celebrating Pride while employing union-busting consultants that deny workers the promise of a union contract.

Far too often, I see and hear people who just want to give up because It’s just too hard… But we cannot. We, The Labor Movement, are the best-equipped, most appropriate single body of people in this great land to fight this fight and secure this change, once and for all. We must be at the vanguard of this movement and be the change we seek.

Talk to your family, your friends, your church members, your fellow workers, and everyone within the sound of your voice. Help them see a different way of perceiving and accepting people, especially if you know people who look in love and but also look different than your family, your friends, your church members, your fellow workers. Remember: An injury to one of us is an injury to all of us, and that includes all our Sisters, Brothers and friends, no matter which pronouns they employ.

AFL-CIO Report Data Shows Latino and Black Workers Dying on the Job at Highest Rate in Over a Decade

AFL-CIO Report Data Shows Latino and Black Workers Dying on the Job at Highest Rate in Over a Decade

BREAKING: AFL-CIO Report Data Shows Latino and Black Workers Dying on the Job at Highest Rate in Over a Decade
April 26, 2023

The federation’s 2023 Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect report shows alarming working conditions across the country.

View the Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect report, social media graphics and infographics here.

Today the AFL-CIO, America’s largest labor federation, released its 32nd annual report, Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, a national and state-by-state profile of worker safety and health. Key findings from the report point to a troubling rise in worker deaths, particularly among Black and Latino workers, and illustrate the urgency of funding and support needed for critical job safety oversight and enforcement.

The report shows the fatality rate for Black workers grew from 3.5 to 4.0 per 100,000 workers and more than 650 died on the job, the highest number in nearly two decades. Latino workers have the greatest risk of dying on the job, with a fatality rate at 4.5 per 100,000 workers that has grown by 13% over the past decade. There was also a slight uptick in deaths for Latino workers in 2021, and the overwhelming majority who died were immigrants.

“Every American should be alarmed and outraged by the tragic data unearthed in this report,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “It is unconscionable that in the wealthiest nation in the world, Black and Latino workers are facing the highest on-the-job fatality rates in nearly two decades. This report is more than a wake-up call, it is a call to action. No one should have to risk their lives for their livelihoods. There is no corporate cost-benefit analysis that should put human life and worker safety on the wrong side of the ledger.

“This report isn’t just about data points, it is about people. Every worker who died on the job represents another empty seat at a family’s kitchen table. Every worker accounted for in this report is a person who just went to work one day and never came home. It is our solemn responsibility to these workers to do everything in our power to honor their memories by making America’s workplaces safer—because that’s what unions do. It is our history, it is our responsibility and it is our cause to always put workers and their safety first.”

This year’s report also reveals that in 2021:

  • 343 workers died each day from hazardous working conditions.
  • 5,190 workers were killed on the job in the United States.
  • An estimated 120,000 workers died from occupational diseases.
  • The job fatality rate increased to 3.6 per 100,000 workers.
  • Employers reported nearly 3.2 million work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • The true impact of COVID-19 infections due to workplace exposures is unknown. Limited data show that more than 1.5 million nursing home workers have been infected with COVID-19 and more than 3,000 have died.
  • Fewer data are now reported on job injuries and illnesses related to workplace violence, musculoskeletal disorders and heat illness, which continue to be major problems.
  • Underreporting is widespread—the true toll of work-related injuries and illnesses is 5.4 million to 8.1 million each year in private industry.

The report, which includes data on the worker fatality rate in all 50 states as well as the most affected industries, also lays out recommendations for strengthening federal agencies tasked with enforcing worker safety. In 2021, there were 1,871 inspectors—900 at the federal level and 971 at the state—for the more than 10.8 million workplaces under the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s jurisdiction. That equates to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) having the ability to inspect every workplace once every 190 years and just $3.99 in OSHA’s budget to protect each worker. Penalties for employer violations also remain too low to be a deterrent, and fewer than 130 worker deaths have been criminally prosecuted since 1970.

“The federal agencies responsible for safeguarding workers were created for a reason, and it’s past time that they received the funding and staffing they need to create and enforce worker protection standards,” said AFL-CIO Safety and Health Director Rebecca Reindel. “Employers should be held accountable for the working conditions on jobsites, and our lawmakers at every level must use their power to properly enforce the policies designed to protect us.”

Contact: Danielle Noel, 202-637-5018