Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

September 5, 1987

On September 5, 1987, the New York Amsterdam News reported that the city’s “Labor Day parade will, for the first time, reflect fair recognition of Black contributions to trade unionism with Peter Jerome Ottley, Grenada-born president of Local 144, Hotel, Hospital, Nursing Home and Allied Service Union, S.E.I.U, as grand marshal.” Ottley was elected secretary-treasurer of Local 144 in 1950, when it was a hotel union with a predominately white membership. The union’s membership changed in the 1970s and 1980s, expanding to represent nursing home and hospital workers, the majority of whom were black. By the time of Ottley’s death in 1990, Local 144 represented more than 200 hotels, 100 nursing homes, and 40 hospitals, with a total of 33,000 members.

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