On Jan. 16, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Baltimore Black Workers (BBWC) Center launched at Coppin State University with a day of organizing workers. The Center will focus on joblessness and organizing Black workers. BBWC is one of nine affiliates of the National Black Workers Project.

L-R Robin Gaines, food service worker, and Alberta Palmer, UniteHere Local 7 organizer, speak at Coppin State University about unionizing workers. (Photo by Ken Morgan)

L-R Robin Gaines, food service worker, and Alberta Palmer, UniteHere Local 7 organizer, speak at Coppin State University about unionizing workers. (Photo by Ken Morgan)

Dorcas R. Gilmore, an organizer with the organization, told the AFRO at the event, “We are building a Baltimore Black Worker Center as a Black worker-led organization that focuses on the dual Black jobs crisis of unemployment and low-wage work. We believe that Black workers play a pivotal role in transforming Baltimore into a just and equitable place for all its residents.”

Courtney Jenkins was only able to get low-wage jobs such as a food worker, laborer, and cashier before he landed a job with the U.S. Postal Service.  He said, “Once I found unionized work I realized the importance of a union. And now I want to make every workplace unionized.” Robin Gaines is a cook at Johns Hopkins University, who has been there for almost 20 years. “The University says we are one, but we are not one when it comes to workers wages and benefits.”

For Baltimore White median income was $60,550, compared to $33, 610, for Blacks. For young Black men between the ages of 20 and 24, the unemployment rate was 37% according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It was 10% for White men of the same age.