Joslyn Williams (Courtesy photo)
After 34 years of fighting employment inequalities in the D.C. area, the first Black president of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO said he decided to step down to fight employment challenges on a global level.
“I felt it was time for me to try other things spend more time thinking and trying to solve problems instead of just reacting,” Joslyn Williams told the AFRO Feb. 2. “Focus on areas that I have spent years working in but did not have time to really devout to those areas like the challenge in the global economy and impact that has on workers.” He said the American middle class has to broaden its view of the economy beyond the country’s borders if it wants to become stable.
The council is an organization that fights for economic justice that benefits all workers by uniting the labor movement and mobilizing the local community. Williams is tentatively scheduled to officially resign from his position when the new president is elected in March.
Describing the devastating impact global commerce has on the American middle class, Williams said that trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) challenges livelihoods because it transfers jobs to other countries and depresses wages.
“Black and Latino workers still occupy the bottom rung of the economic ladder,” Williams told the AFRO in an email Feb. 9. “The jobless rate for Black workers in 2015 was double (9.6 percent) that of White workers (4.7 percent). So job losses have a disproportionate impact on Black and Latino workers. Racial and ethnic minorities suffer from economic discrimination around the globe.”
He said that several of the worker rights, wages, and environmental protections under U.S. laws are not binding under trade agreements. “Just as African Americans are losing their jobs here, so are Black people elsewhere in the globe,” Williams said, emphasizing that he wants to “help people realize that foreign workers are not the enemy. The enemy is corporate Giants seeking to exploit labor no matter where it is.”
Over the next few months, Williams will transition out of his role as head of the council and move towards helping to solve the American middle class’ employment problem through, what he calls, a social transformative movement that includes addressing struggles for labor rights, human rights and civil rights issues through a number of different ways, such as campaigning to help the people elect a “worker, family friendly president.”
“I don’t have a magic bullet,” he said. “There isn’t a magic bullet. It’s a matter of people putting their heads together and coming up with solutions.”
“My dream is that there should be many more Americans who are and have been able to achieve what I have been able to achieve, Williams said, focusing on a goal to expand the global 1 percent to 50 percent. “Those who have been lucky enough to achieve something owe a responsibility to keep on fighting and struggling to achieve that just society.”