Support Letter for Director of MNPS

Sent to MNPS School Board Members via email on 3/19/2019


Members of the School Board,

I’m writing to express support for renewing the contract of Dr. Shawn Joseph, Director of Metro Schools on behalf of the over 20,000 union members and their families that belong to the Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Dr. Joseph has restored a productive working relationship with unions that represent MNPS employees.

Too many people in Nashville seem to have forgotten what conditions were like under the previous director of Metro Schools. Labor relations between teachers, support staff, bus drivers  and the administration were extremely contentious. Dr. Register refused to negotiate memorandums of understanding with support staff, he dismantled policies that were good for labor and management, and he outsourced 700 good custodial jobs, disrupting the lives of families across the district.

The morale in Metro Schools has been a topic of recent news coverage, as it should be. However, to suggest that the morale in Metro Schools is solely at the feet of the Director ignores the chronic underfunding of system and the impact of systemic poverty in our city. The State of Tennessee funding formula gives Davidson County one of lowest allotments per student in the entire state. Despite the economic boom, our city did not fund the Metro Schools budget request last year, leaving teachers and employees with no raises or cost of living adjustments. 72% of Metro School children are affected by some level of poverty.

Dr. Joseph inherited a school system with immense challenges and we believe he is doing his best to address them, but he can only be as effective as the resources he is given.

He has taken concrete steps to repair the relationship between the administration and employees, and he respects the rights of employees to have a voice in the workplace. The members of the Central Labor Council believe he should have the opportunity to continue to implement his vision for the district, and we will continue to advocate for the funding the district desperately needs.



Vonda McDaniel


Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle TN, AFL-CIO

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The Playbook: Fighting for Worker Safety On & Off the Field

This year Nashville welcomes the NFL draft. To kickoff this weekend, the CLC is hosting an exciting fundraiser luncheon on April 25th at the Music City Center at noon. The featured speaker is DeMaurice Smith ESQ, the Executive Director of the NFL Players Association. This is a rare opportunity to hear from a high-profile employee representative about the safety and health work that his Union has done.

Tickets and Sponsorships can be purchased here or by mail at PO Box 290153, Nashville, TN, 37229.

Sponsorship Packages:

Hall of Famer $5,000: includes a table of ten with prime seating, VIP parking, full-page ad in program, listing on event signage, and recognition at the event and online.

MVP $3,000: includes five tickets with premium seating, half-page ad in program, and recognition at the event and online.

Team Captain $1,000: includes 2 tickets with preferred seating, quarter-page ad, and ecognition at the event.

Tickets $100: includes lunch. 

Download flyer here.


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UAW Secretary-Treasurer Ray Curry's MLK Breakfast Keynote Address


Photo Credit: Walter Jones

Labor Breakfast – January 18, 2019

Good morning members of the Interdenominational Ministries Fellowship, Community Leaders, and to my sisters and brothers of Labor.

It is an exciting day for a young man born in 1965 to be here today to talk about “Beyond the March, a life of action.” One who walked the bridges of Selma, Alabama, sat in the Jackson, Mississippi office of Medgar Evers, enjoyed an hour of conversation with Congressman John Lewis in his DC Office, and I even enjoyed meeting living members of AFSCME from 1963.

Many of us have read the history, seen the historical footage, and enjoyed the speaking engagements of the warrior of civil rights.

We know about many efforts, but do we know about Dr. King’s vision and relationship with labor? A highlight of his life is his defense and march with members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union (AFSCME) and their efforts in Memphis, Tennessee prior to his death by assassination!

Do you know of his relationship with A. Phillip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters who actually planned the March on Washington along with Bayard Rustin?

Do you know of United Auto Workers President Walter Reuther and his relationship with Dr. King? Two men with similar visions:

⎯ Economic justice for working men and women
⎯ All men and women regardless of color should be treated equally in the
world and workplace
⎯ The right to organize a union
⎯ The right of integration in the workplace when it was unpopular with other union shops. Remember before there was an AFL-CIO, there was just an AFL and a separate CIO. That separation was always a problem for Dr. King and President Reuther who did not always agree in principle with AFL-CIO President George Meany.

As you entered today, you received two handouts with three pictures:

1) reflects the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
2) reflects Walk to Freedom as most came to know as the practice March on

During the Michigan trip and national events, the relationship with Dr. King and President Reuther grew. It was Reuther that was one of only a few labor leaders at the side of Dr. King for the Marches of Detroit, DC and even the March for the funeral services for Reverend James Reeb. As most know, he was the minister that was killed for his support of African Americans’ right to vote following the first attempt to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Reuther even provided the cash bond for Dr. King’s release from a Birmingham jail. Additionally, Dr. King was provided office space at the UAW’s Solidarity House (headquarters) in Detroit where he drafted the I Have a Dream Speech while preparing for the Walk of Freedom March.

Those are examples of a life of civil rights legacy and labor!

The visions of marches and historical legacy are clear reminders of the past, but I question you – who continues the work?

1963 – Dr. King said, “There are more negroes in jail with me than there are on the voting rolls.” It has taken Amendment 4 – Voter Restoration in Florida – 55+ years to begin to reverse that issue.

We have watched years of the past where poll taxes and the ability to read and write block efforts to vote only today to allow candidates to be elected because we failed to vote by early voting, absentee, or on Election Day because we failed to take the time.

This quote should make many here think today.

President Johnson’s high spirits were marked as he circulated among the many guests who he had invited to witness an event he confidently felt to be historic – the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. “The bill lay on the polished mahogany desk was born in violence in Selma, Alabama where a stubborn sheriff. . .had stumbled against the future.”

A quote from 1965 that still resonates in 2019 with those who still teach and practice hate and division. We still have those Selma sheriffs. They are beside us in our workplace, communities, and more places only to impede the dream.

Though we have become experts in technology of computers, iPhones, Facetime and more, have we utilized those opportunities to advance the dream and the March or is it just history?

55 years ago, can you imagine Dr. King, Rev. Abernathy, and Andrew Young facetiming Rosa Parks and others in Montgomery about the bus boycott and reaching others about steps to sit-in at Woolworth counters in Nashville,Tennessee or Greensboro, North Carolina? An actual text of the exact time to take action and not risk an exchange for others to detect it by paper copies.

⎯ No. We fail to use technology and social media to advance messages of purpose, often tweeting, texting and Facebook sharing issues of hate, bullying and obscenities
⎯ We need to be stronger advocates for fairness
⎯ We need to be stronger voices for injustices to working men and women as those of the 2% control the cities and states of this country

Be that voice in an empty City Council or a voice for fair education and funding at a school board meeting or PTA.

If young children and teenagers only understand the March and Dream through history books and not the actions of their community leaders, do we advance 50+ years later? Or do you watch as history passes us by, and we fight to defend laws and bills already passed and signed into law?

I call on all of us today to select a goal or issue to advance the March by real action.

⎯ Be proud to be clergy
⎯ Be proud to be labor union members
⎯ Be proud to be a community activist

In all, do not just wear a label! Raise awareness by taking action in your church, your workplace, another’s workplace, community, city and state.

Volunteers were not paid in the past. Always remember “the ultimate measure of a man or woman is not where he or she stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he or she stands at times of challenge and controversy.” I say in 2019, we are facing that same thing.

Dr. King was jailed, faced Bull Connor’s water hoses and dogs, marched in heat and paid the ultimate price of losing his life to an assassin’s bullet by defending working men and women as he had returned to support striking sanitation workers.

On this weekend and every day, what will our steps and actions be to build a better community and better nation? What will we sacrifice for family, community, or for a future legacy?

A message to think about and a message to remember. He gave the ultimate price, the ultimate sacrifice and for some of us, we cannot even make an effort to volunteer.

I leave you with this message of hope, a message of next steps, a message of what’s owed to another generation. A message that we too have an obligation to lead another march and effort. “The March of 1963 is all but history; the March and Efforts of 2019 are yet to begin and you hold that individual vision.”

Thank you.

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Welcome New Affiliates RWDSU & BMWED!

We are pleased to announce that our Central Labor Council is continuing to grow! This month, we welcomed new affiliates Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) Local 150 and Brotherhood of Maintenance and Way (BMWED) Lodge 670 into our Council. #UnionStrong #1u 


RWDSU Local 150 represents over 200 members at the US Smokeless Tobacco Co in Nashville, TN. 



BMWED Lodge 670 represents nearly 100 members who perform track maintenance for CSX railroad. 

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Central Labor Council endorses Union Member Delishia Porterfield in Metro District 29 Race

The Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, comprised of 23 local affiliate labor unions, has announced its endorsement of Delishia Porterfield in the Metro Council District 29 special election. Ms. Porterfield is currently a Special Education Coach for Metro Nashville Public Schools and a member of the Metro Nashville Education Association, a union representing Nashville’s teachers and one of the most recent new affiliates to the Central Labor Council.Delishia.jpg

“The CLC supports Delishia not simply because she shares our values,” said Vonda McDaniel, president of the Central Labor Council. “We support her for Metro Council District 29 because as a community activist, teacher and parent she shares our lived experience. She will fight for public safety and public employees, strong schools and infrastructure improvements. We believe she is a needed voice at this time in our city.”

For more information, contact Vonda McDaniel at

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