Black Trade Unionists Leadership Committee Records and Photographs
Language of Materials
The Black Trade Unionists Leadership Committee grew out of a loose coalition of New York City African-American trade-unionists, formed during the 1968 teachers' strike. In 1971 it became a committee of the New York City Central Labor Council, concerned with African-American affairs. The collection contains minutes, correspondence, subject files, and photographs.
The Black Trade Unionists Leadership Committee grew out of the city-wide strike by the United Federation of Teachers in 1968. The dispute arose out of a school decentralization plan that gave communities more control over schools. The Community School Board of Ocean-Hill Brownsville, a school district in Brooklyn, allegedly violated a key section of the UFT's contract by transferring nine teachers out of the district. The long strike put the district in a state of turmoil, with passions running high in the community and among union members.
In 1968 A. Philip Randolph brought together black trade-unionists in an attempt to develop support for the teachers' union. The group decided to meet intermittently to discuss issues of mutual concern and to seek solutions that would benefit black workers both in and out of the labor movement. At its inception the group worked as an ad hoc committee and had no permanent officers. One of its first efforts was to develop a "big brother" program, whereby trade-unionists counseled young workers who had no previous employment experience.
The committee was formally organized in 1971 as the Black Trade Unionists Committee of the New York City Central Labor Council. Its first president was John Burnell of the Transport Workers Union. Toward the end of 1973 it changed its name to the Black Trade Unionists Leadership Committee. The group's objectives were to foster good relations between the black community and the labor movement, to increase the political involvement of black trade unionists - both in the field of civil rights in general and to advance the interests of black workers specifically, and to advance the goals of the NYC Central Labor Council.
The Committee makes use of educational conferences, voter registration drives, community service projects, and scholarship awards to advance its program. Its educational conferences and awards dinner-dances became annual events beginning in the early 1970s.
Folders are arranged chronologically in Series I-III and Series IV and V are arranged alphabetically.
The files are grouped into 5 series:
- I: Constitution and By-Laws
- II: Minutes
- III: Correspondence
- IV: General Files
- V: Photographs
Scope and Content Note
The collection contains minutes, correspondence, subject files, and photographs. Minutes (incomplete) are of Executive Board and General Membership meetings. Correspondence includes both officers' outgoing correspondence and incoming correspondence from a number of labor, civil rights and community organizations. Also included in the collection are financial reports, records of conferences and dinner dances, press releases and other publicity material, and seven files of material documenting BTULC Secretary Austin Ottley's work as a student at Empire State College's Labor Division, where his mentor was Dr. Harry Kelber. Photographs are from the 1970s through mid-1980s and depict a variety of events, meetings, speakers, headshots, and group portraits.
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by the Black Trade Unionists Leadership Committee was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.
Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date; Black Trade Unionists Leadership Committee; WAG 138; box number; folder number;
Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Thomas Scotland, president of the Black Trade Unionists Leadership Committee, in 1996. The accession numbers associated with this gift are 1996.001 and 1996.007.
These papers were collected by Austin Ottley during his tenure as Secretary of the BTULC. They were donated to the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives by Thomas Scotland, president of the BTULC, in December 1996.
About this Guide
Photographs were separated from this collection during initial processing and were established as a separate collection, the Black Trade Unionists Leadership Committee Photographs (PHOTOS 127). In 2013, the photograph collection was arranged and described by the archivist and reincorporated into the Black Trade Unionists Leadership Committee Records and Photographs. In Series V: Photographs, original envelope divisions have been preserved in folders.