Carry on Dr. King’s Fight for Collective Bargaining in Face of Janus Threat

“Working People’s Day of Action” Feb. 24, 2018

As we commemorate Martin Luther King Day, we are reminded not only of Dr. King’s historic achievements in terms of civil rights, but also recognize his deep commitment to workers’ rights. In 1968, Dr. King went to Memphis, TN to stand with African American sanitation workers fighting for their right to a voice on the job.

His ardent support for collective bargaining rights and the dignity of all workers is especially meaningful given the current political climate. The Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME, seeks to lower workers’ wages and eliminate collective bargaining rights. In short, the case is a backdoor to enact right to work in the public sector, led by wealthy interests.

This fight is nothing new to the labor movement. Here is what Dr. King had to say about right to work laws in 1961:

“In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”

While the fight for collective bargaining rights will not be easy, we cannot be deterred. Dr. King proved that there is no adversity too great to overcome when we stand united for justice. Therefore, the labor movement is organizing a “Working People’s Day of Action” on Feb. 24, 2018, to oppose the attacks on collective bargaining rights and wages. Union members from across the country will join together to do as Dr. King would have done, and we look forward to carrying on the fight for justice side-by-side with you.

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