“Byron was a trade unionist to his core. From his days as a steelworker in Radford, Virginia, to his central role in organizing the Newport News Shipyard to his advocacy for the labor movement’s agenda on Capitol Hill, particularly around federal employee issues, Byron’s service to our movement spanned half a century.”
He also served a stint as assistant to the executive director of the African American Labor Center. “His joyful presence will be deeply missed.” Read more here. An online service for Byron will be held this Saturday, January 9 at 1:30pm.
Scott will be remembered for his strong trade unionism, dedicating his career to the labor movement and spending twenty-four of those years with the AFL-CIO. But, for those of us that had the pleasure of working with Scott, we will miss him for his humor, his friendship and his stories of adventurous travel that brightened the workplace every day.
Following a half-century of fighting for working people around the world, AFL-CIO Legislative Representative Byron Charlton succumbed to Covid following an extended illness on December 28, 2021.
“He was a warm thoughtful colleague, someone who would pop into your office just to see how you were doing,” recalled AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “He was a conscience of the federation on racial justice; outspoken, determined and fully devoted to bettering the lives of all working people.”
Brother Charlton joined Steelworkers Local 2969 in Radford, VA, in 1970 working at Lynchburg Foundries. In the early 1980s, he helped organize Steelworkers Local 8888 at Newport News (VA) Shipbuilding.
From there, Charlton worked various assignments with the AFL-CIO, including as the assistant to the executive director of the African American Labor Center. His efforts took him to numerous locations around the world.
In the 1990s, he returned to the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington to work on legislative and policy issues. He chaired the United Department of Defense Workers Coalition, formed by more than 20 AFL-CIO affiliates when the George W. Bush administration tried to attack collective bargaining rights after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The coalition pushed back the administration’s attempt to say the rollbacks were for “national security” by pointing out union members were the first to be killed and hundreds of others died during rescue efforts at the Twin Towers of New York City.
“I knew Byron for more than 20 years,” noted MTD Executive Secretary-Treasurer Daniel Duncan. “He was one of the good guys, always smiling, always friendly – unless you were attacking workers. That’s where he drew the line.”
Please join Scott’s family, friends and colleagues for a virtual service to celebrate his life on Saturday, January 9th at 4pm ET. Click here to RSVP. Please also visit this memorial page to share your photos and stories about Scott, and to access the zoom link for the service on January 9th. Please feel free to share this invitation with others who knew Scott. All are welcome.
AFL-CIO Office of the President 815 16th Street, NW Washington, DC 20006
It’s official! The workers of Verso Books have won voluntary union recognition from management of the publishing house after an arbitrator certified on Dec. 8 that a majority of employees in the unit had signed cards indicating support for joining the Washington-Baltimore Local of The NewsGuild-CWA. Management had agreed in principle to grant voluntary recognition late last month.
Ben Mabie, an editor and shop steward for the new unit, said, “For 50 years Verso Books has been a leading tribune for emancipatory politics. In taking this decision to unionize, our staff looks to join this storied history, marrying radical publishing with organizing and real solidarity with the wider labor movement. The Communications Workers of America and the NewsGuild have done particularly dedicated work in bringing some power and democracy to workers in the media and telecommunications, so we’re especially glad to throw in our lot with them.”
Through informal organizing over the years, the staff has won a number of policies aimed at increasing transparency in the workplace, including the development of a staff guide, democratic decision-making, salary banding, and more. Representation is intended to strengthen these policies by formalizing them and moving towards greater power in the workplace.
Julia Judge, a senior publicist at Verso, said, “The decision to unionize felt especially urgent now, as our staff both grows significantly in size and grows more remote. We’re excited to join our colleagues who have already begun organizing across the industry and hope that fellow book workers continue pushing for more dignified labor conditions in their own workplaces.”
Operating remotely since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered offices in March, Verso employees recognized the necessity of maintaining close communication with one another and protecting input into their working conditions amidst widespread uncertainty. Following on the heels of several publisher workplace actions in solidarity with Black Lives Matter this summer, as well as an industry-wide reckoning with issues of race, class, and gender to ability and entry-level compensation, the staff said its decision to unionize was also an act of solidarity with workers in media, publishing, and bookselling, as well as in the broader labor movement.
The campaign is in solidarity with a concurrent unionization effort by the workers of Verso’s UK office, represented by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in London.