The Milwaukee, Wisconsin Chapter of CBTU (Coalition of Black Trade Unionists) held its first annual “Camp Union” from June 19-23. The Milwaukee Chapter headed by UAW Local 469 member DiAndre Jackson put together the initiative to hold the weeklong day camp where junior high and senior high school students would have the opportunity to learn about organized labor and the union’s role in society.

Brother Jackson said, “The plan was to start a program where we could reach out to young people in the community, educate them about the importance of unions, what we do, how it’s important to have solidarity with each other at work, and expose them to things we believe they won’t get in a traditional school setting.”

CBTU Milwaukee reached out to Region 4 and other labor organizations for donations to help start the program. “Region 4 has been fantastic with their generous support of dollars, instructors and program content,” said former UAW member and Delphi worker Jay Reinke, Camp Union’s facilitator and community liaison with the Milwaukee Area Labor Council.

Young people are given a rigorous curriculum that includes classes on labor history, globalization, fair trade and political action (presented by Region 4 Community Action Program representatives Tony Garcia and Kelli Harrison), the economy, civil and human rights, (presented by Region 4 servicing representative Anthony Rainey), immigration, voting rights, and the United Way. The students who successfully complete the weeklong training will achieve a certificate which will be presented at the Annual Milwaukee Laborfest celebration held every Labor Day.

Amari Huffman commented that she thought Camp Union was a magnificent experience, “I learned about women’s rights, voting, civil rights and so much more. I appreciate all the hard work and time everyone put into putting this camp together.” Jayden Henderson said, “I didn’t know what to expect; I found out what it means to be part of a union, about solidarity and how important unions are.”

Brother Jackson says, “We want to keep this going, this was the first Camp Union but it won’t be the last. We want this to be an annual event where we take our message to the young people and grow the labor movement. Unless a young person is part of a union family, then they have no idea what the UAW is or all about and this is a great way to share that.”

UAW Region 4 News • Ronald McInroy, director • Bradley Dutcher, assistant director • Regional office: 680 Barclay Blvd., Lincolnshire, IL 60069 • Phone (847) 459-3888 • FAX (847) 459-5680 • Bradley Schwanda, editor