[Dear Friend, We are writing to invite you to join us]
Labor Breakfast with Sam Shilowa
by Stanley Hill, Edgar Romney, New York Committee for African Labor Solidarity
New York, New York, United States
Undated, about late October or early November 1996
The mailing says we are writing to invite you to join us at 8:30AM on Tuesday November 12 for a labor breakfast with Sam Shilowa, head of the South African labor federation COSATU, and COSATU International Director Bangumzi Sifingo; the event is a fundraiser for the New York Committee For African Labor Solidarity (NYCALS) which is carrying on the solidarity work of the Labor Committee Against Apartheid. The mailing says please come prepared to contribute generously to this work. In the months ahead we are planning a major campaign to support the labor movement in Nigeria, where a military dictatorship has arrested labor leaders, seized union bank accounts, removed elected officials from office, and collaborated with U.S. and European corporations to break strikes; Nigerian workers need our solidarity. The mailing says Shilowa and Sifingo are on their way to Washington for the first formal meeting between COSATU and the new AFL-CIO; we have been given the opportunity to host them on very short notice, and we hope you will be able to attend; it will be a rare chance for many of us to re-establish contact with our sisters and brothers in the South African labor movement, get labor's progress report on Mandela's first two years in office and discuss the future of U.S./South African labor solidarity. The mailing says Sam Shilowa is a man who rose through the ranks. He was a night watchman when he first joined the labor movement, and in face of bloody repression by the apartheid regime, helped build COSA TU into the powerful 1.3 million member federation that it is today; since workers overturned the ban on Black unions in 1980, COSATU provided the organizational muscle and political leadership that galvanized mass resistance to apartheid and finally brought the racist system down. The mailing says today COSATU remains on the cutting edge of progressive social change in South Africa -- challenging the "free trade," low wage corporate agenda for the free South Africa and pressing the Mandela-led government to move more quickly to redress the economic and political legacy of apartheid.
Collection: Private collection of Richard Knight