The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU)–Canada Chapter sends its deepest condolences to the family and to all those affected by the passing of Fred Upshaw.
Fred Upshaw was best known as the first African Canadian Trade Unionist to lead a major Canadian Union. Fred Upshaw shattered the glass ceiling when he was elected National President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) from 1990-1995.
The breaking through of glass ceilings in and of itself is always in our view an occasion to celebrate. Fred's achievements however, extend far beyond the one event. His accomplishments and the opportunities he created for those who came after him continues to resonate throughout the Labour movement to this day.
Fred Upshaw alongside what would later be known as CBTU Canada led the fight for the inclusion of workers of colour by fighting for equity seats on the Executive Board of the (OFL) Ontario Federation of Labour. The success of attaining those seats continues to exist to this day.
As a ripple effect of that victory and with Fred's continuing support. CBTU Canada along with the OFL and other progressive affiliates continued the fight for equity seats at the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). With Fred's support a campaign and buttons were developed with the message “One Plus One”. It is that very struggle that gave birth to the two equity seats that exist on the CLC's Executive Board today.
CBTU Canada salutes the legacy of Fred Upshaw as we acknowledge that it is upon his shoulders and the shoulders of those like him that we stand.