Today is April 4th, forty-three years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2000, National Jobs with Justice and the United States Student Association began the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) Day of Action to recognize Dr. King’s important work supporting the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike in 1968.
Men and women throughout the Memphis community supported the effort of the workers to join the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees for collective bargaining rights, i.e. job security and protection from dangerous work environments. For a more detailed look at this struggle watch the film At the River I Stand.
We are living in a time where working, unemployed, and underemployed people are under attack from multinational corporations, who want all the rights and privileges of personhood with none of the responsibilities of being humane and just. Walmart, SodexhoMarriot, and the Red Cross are just a few anti-union companies that are destroying our communities with low wages and minimal, if any, benefits. Unionized public sector employees and teachers are also being targeted by corporate funded state and local governments supposedly to address budget deficits. These groups represent the few remaining organized workers with the political power to challenge the conservative Right-To-Work for less agendas. To be clear, without public sector workers there is no black middle class or organized working class, so many black folk in my generation would not have had access to any college education.
The struggle to protect public sector employees in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Georgia, and many other states are all of our fights. It is the same legislation dressed up in different language. Today you can Get Active by visiting the AFL-CIO We Are One website, click on your state, find out what is going on in your area, and make your voice heard. My family spent Saturday morning at the most amazing Atlanta Jobs with Justice community teach-in. Take an hour to do something to commemorate Dr. King’s true dream, I promise you will not regret it.