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Wisconsin labor protestNEW YORK — With laws passed stripping many unionized workers in Wisconsin and Ohio of their collective bargaining rights, some African-Americans in New York City are concerned that they’re next.

“To go through what those people are going through would be a complete nightmare,” said construction worker Bernie Simmons of Brooklyn, NY.

According to Stuart Applebaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, African-Americans who are in unions are 12 percent more likely to have health insurance benefits and a pension plan than non-Black unionized workers.

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“Collective bargaining has lifted up people of color and women the most,” said Applebaum in a speech today at the 2011 National Action Network convention. “Unions continue to be a core element of improving economic equality in this country and we can’t let them take our rights away and we won’t.”

According to the Center for Economic Policy and Research, union members earn almost 30 percent more than non-union members, and women in unions earn 28 percent more than non-union women.

In New York City, the Bloomberg administration’s attempt to privatize many facets of city government isn’t going unnoticed, according to the Executive Director of District Council 37, Lillian Roberts.

“We have to fight because if we don’t it can happen here. Don’t close your eyes. It’s going on right beneath us,” said Roberts.

Keep us bookmarked for continuous coverage of Sharpton’s 2011 NAN Convention!

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