Fox Valley Labor News
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015
Union members can never forget that Martin Luther King Jr. was supporting striking sanitation workers when he was killed in the spring of 1968 in Atlanta, Ga.
He was there protesting with 1,300 AFSCME sanitation workers who were on strike. Marchers in the streets carried “I am a man” signs to emphasize workers were human beings deserving of a respectable living wage.
AFSCME President Lee Saunders said King spoke out against the kind of capitalism that sacrifices people for the sake of profits.
“We must speak out just as forcefully against an economy in which so many working women and men are struggling to care for their families, even as they work harder than ever,” Saunders explained.
King had much to say on matters of social justice and how it might be achieved, and that message has relevance all days of the year, not just when we observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Nationwide, organized labor came together to mourn, celebrate and march in memory of Dr. King.
The AFL-CIO held a 5-day Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference in Atlanta to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King and to commemorate the accomplishments of the civil rights movement.
“This conference reinforces the historic bond between the labor and civil rights movements and honors Dr. King’s vision that collective action — whether at the voting booth or in the workplace — will mobilize participants to continue their work in order to make his dream a reality,” the union said.
Laborers’ International Union of North America General President Terry O’Sullivan said Dr. King’s legacy of is one of remarkable strides toward equality in our country; strides that many generations never saw and could only imagine. Nearly a half-century ago Dr. King identified the critical flaw of economic injustice and now, that flaw continues.
“That is why the union movement was among his most fearless advocates and why he died standing with unions. That is why the union movement today must grow in numbers and strength,” O’Sullivan stressed.
“Brothers and sisters, as we proudly honor Dr. King’s legacy, I urge each of us to use his inspiration to re-dedicate ourselves to what we stand for — justice, honor and strength — and to his mission of equality of all and economic justice for all. Without equality, our honor and strength is undermined,” O’Sullivan added.