Non-profit

Black Workers for Justice (BWFJ)

Website:

www.bwfj.org

Location:

Rocky Mount, NC

Tax ID:

56-1664929

Type:

Activist Group

Formation:

1981

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Black Workers for Justice (BWFJ) is an activist organization that supports Black liberation, Black/Brown unity, and labor organizing. It was involved in the founding of the Labor Party and was an affiliate of the Black Radical Congress. 1 2 Some of its funders included the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation, the Southern Vision Alliance, and Grassroots Global Justice. 3

Background

Black Workers for Justice began in 1981 when Black women workers at a K-mart store in Rocky Mount, North Carolina boycotted the store to protest perceived race and gender discrimination. This event inspired the creation of BWFJ, which expanded to other workplaces in 10 counties to become a statewide organization focused on “black liberation and workers’ power.” 4 Co-founders included Angaza Laughinghouse, Ajamu Dillahunt, and Saladin Muhammad. 5

BWFJ is focused on linking workplace struggles to Black empowerment and social justice, with Black workers in the United States South as its main membership base. 6

In 1996 BWFJ was involved in the founding of the Labor Party at a convention in Cleveland, Ohio. The four initial endorsing unions were the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union; the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE); the International Longshore and Warehouse Union; and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes. 7 The Labor Party demands included a guaranteed job to every American, a minimum wage of $10 an hour which would rise with inflation, a 32-hour work week, and universal government-provided health insurance. 8

Affiliates

Organizers in the UE and the AFL-CIO are also Black Workers for Justice members. 9

BWFJ was an affiliate of the Black Radical Congress (BRC), with its members automatically enrolled in BRC. BRC, which has since dissolved, began as an initial “summit of the Black Left,” and then formed an organization representing left-wing Black America fighting against “white supremacist national oppression and imperialism.” 10

Work Areas and Activism

Co-founder Saladin Muhammad described Black Workers for Justice as a “mass activist workers organization.” 11 Focus areas include Black liberation, Black/Brown unity, and labor organizing. 12

In 2019 BWFJ participated in a solidarity march and rally in North Carolina to condemn the policies of the Trump administration. 13 BWFJ claimed that then-President Donald Trump promoted racism and fascist white nationalism and should be impeached. 14

BWFJ supports Medicare for All. In September 2019, it co-sponsored a Medicare for All event with the slogan, “We don’t need your stupid wall, we need Medicare for All.” Other co-sponsors included the National Black Workers Center Project, Black Voices/Black Votes, Fight for $15, UE, the Southern Workers Assembly, and The National Conference of Black Lawyers. 15

BWFJ, along with the Southern Workers Assembly and UE Local 150, supports the Fruit of Labor World Cultural Center located in Raleigh, North Carolina, 16 which is “dedicated to capture in music oppressed peoples’ and the working class peoples’ struggle.” 17

In a Facebook post from February 2023 BWFJ referred to a “war on Black America,” calling the Memphis police department “representatives of a racist system” and claiming that the United States police system is based on slave catchers and Jim Crow-era chain gangs. It participated in protests against an Atlanta police-training facility critics dubbed “Cop City.” 18

BWFJ was an endorser of the January 2024 March on Washington for Gaza which demanded an immediate and permanent armistice in Gaza, an end to the United States’s “funding of Israel’s genocide against Gaza,” and an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity by Israel. 19  It was endorsed by several radical-left and socialist groups, including the American Center for Justice, the  American Party of Labor, the Communist Party USA, the Democratic Socialists of America, the Global Alliance of Muslims for Equality, the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, UAW Labor for Palestine, and the Workers World Party. 20

Financials

2022 donors to Black Workers for Justice included the Southern Vision Alliance and Grassroots Global Justice. 21 The Southern Vision Alliance is an incubator for left-of-center organizations focused on left-wing social advocacy, climate change, and racial activism. 22 Grassroots Global Justice is an alliance of over 60 organizing groups that focus on left-of-center issues including climate, gender, and a feminist economy. 23

Leadership

Black Workers for Justice co-founder Saladin Muhammad was born in Philadelphia, served in the military, then was employed by the Philco factory. He became a shop steward for his union and actively participated in the Black Power movement. 24

Throughout his 50 years of organizing, he co-founded BWFJ and the Southern Workers Assembly in North Carolina 25 and was an organizer for UE Local 150. He attended labor conferences and organizing tours across the country to educate the labor movement until his death in September 2022. 26

References

  1. Jane Slaughter. “History in the Making: Labor Party Founded in Cleveland.” Labor Notes. July 15, 2009. Accessed June 9, 2024. https://www.labornotes.org/2009/07/history-making-labor-party-founded-cleveland-0
  2. Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Jamala Rogers. “Creating a Viable Black Left: Sixteen Lessons Learned in Building the Radical Black Congress.” Portside. June 21, 2018. Accessed June 9, 2024. https://portside.org/2018-06-21/creating-viable-black-left-sixteen-lessons-learned-building-radical-black-congress
  3. ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer search for 56-1664929. Accessed May 31, 2024. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/full_text_search?q=56-1664929
  4. “About Us.” Black Workers for Justice. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://bwfj.org/about-us/
  5. Brian Gordon. “Black workers fueled the NV labor movement’s past – and are guiding its future.” The News & Observer. February 28, 2023. Accessed June 9, 2024. https://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article272536833.html
  6.  Saladin Muhammad. “Black Workers for Justice, Twenty Years of Struggle.” Against the Current (A Socialist Journal.) November/December 2002. Accessed June 9, 2024. https://againstthecurrent.org/atc101/p717/
  7. Jane Slaughter. “History in the Making: Labor Party Founded in Cleveland.” Labor Notes. July 15, 2009. Accessed June 9, 2024. https://www.labornotes.org/2009/07/history-making-labor-party-founded-cleveland-0
  8. Dan La Botz. “Founding the Labor Party.” Against the Current (A Socialist Journal). July/August 1996. Accessed June 9, 2024. https://againstthecurrent.org/atc063/p765/
  9. Saladin Muhammad. “Black Workers for Justice, Twenty Years of Struggle.” Against the Current (A Socialist Journal.) November/December 2002. Accessed June 9, 2024. https://againstthecurrent.org/atc101/p717/
  10. Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Jamala Rogers. “Creating a Viable Black Left: Sixteen Lessons Learned in Building the Radical Black Congress.” Portside. June 21, 2018. Accessed June 9, 2024. https://portside.org/2018-06-21/creating-viable-black-left-sixteen-lessons-learned-building-radical-black-congress
  11. Saladin Muhammad. “Black Workers for Justice, Twenty Years of Struggle.” Against the Current (A Socialist Journal.) November/December 2002. Accessed June 9, 2024. https://againstthecurrent.org/atc101/p717/
  12. “Areas of Work.” Black Workers for Justice – Our Work. Accessed June 9, 2024. http://bwfj.org/our-work/
  13. “And Still We Rise.” Black Workers for Justice – Black/Brown Unity. Accessed June 9, 2024. http://bwfj.org/category/blackbrown-unity/
  14. “White Nationalist Terror Attacks and the Black Community. Black Workers for Justice – Black/Brown Unity. Accessed June 9, 2024. http://bwfj.org/category/blackbrown-unity/
  15. “Medicare for All.” Facebook – Black Workers for Justice. Posted September 16, 2019. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3003226659719129&set=a.128907447151079
  16. “Partner Organizations.” Fruit of Labor. Accessed June 9, 2024. https://www.fruitoflabor.org/
  17. Facebook – Fruit of Labor World Cultural Center. Accessed June 9, 2024. https://www.facebook.com/FruitofLaborWCC/
  18. Facebook – Black Workers for Justice. Posted February 1, 2023. Accessed June 9, 2024. https://www.facebook.com/BWFJ.NC/
  19. “What We Want.” March on Washington for Gaza. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://march4gaza.org/what-we-want/
  20.   “Endorsers.” March on Washington for Gasa. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://march4gaza.org/endorsers/
  21.   ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer search for 56-1664929. Accessed May 31, 2024. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/full_text_search?q=56-1664929
  22. “What We Do.” Southern Vision Alliance. Accessed May 31, 2024. https://southernvision.org/what-we-do/
  23. “About.” Grassroots Global Justice Alliance. Accessed May 31, 2024. https://ggjalliance.org/about/
  24. “UE Mourns Loss of Retired International Representative Saladin Muhammad.” UE Union. September 30, 2022. Accessed June 9, 2024. https://www.ueunion.org/ue-news/2022/ue-mourns-loss-of-retired-international-representative-saladin-muhammad
  25. “Saladin Muhammad, Black Workers for Justice Founder and Leader Joins the Ancestors.” Black Workers for Justice homepage. Accessed June 9, 2024. https://bwfj.org/
  26.  Dante Strobino. “Saladin Muhammad: a life dedicated to organizing Southern Black workers – a WW commentary. Workers World. September 22, 2022. Accessed June 9, 2024. https://www.workers.org/2022/09/66804/
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Black Workers for Justice (BWFJ)


Rocky Mount, NC