Yesterday, April 4, marked the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. To commemorate that tragic event, union workers nationwide held rallies to protest recent moves against workers’ rights to organize.
King had gone to Memphis to support local workers who had asked to join AFSCME (the Association of State, County, and Municipal Employees) and were striking for higher wages and better treatment in the workplace.
More than four decades later, state, county and municipal employees across the nation are coming under fire again. It’s happening in Wisconsin, and it’s happening right here in San Jose, where hundreds of police officers and firefighters, custodians and clerks could lose their jobs for the sake of a balanced budget. Today, however, there is no Martin Luther King, Jr. to lead them.
That did not hinder a group of workers in San Jose from marking the anniversary of King’s death with a demonstration in support of public service workers. They gathered under the banner “We Are One” to express solidarity with workers across the nation whose jobs are coming under fire. Many pointed to Wisconsin, where teachers and government workers saw their rights almost ripped away from them under Gov. Scott Walker.
Tellingly, some at the local rally expressed the fear that the same could happen here, even under a Democratic governor who has been a friend to unions throughout his career.
The demonstrators in San Jose were just one small group of protesters across the nation, who delivered the same message to their elected representatives: “On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. ... was standing with sanitation workers demanding their dream of a better life. Today, we are taking action to honor his legacy and demand politicians not destroy the right to bargain collectively for a voice at work and a middle-class life are under attack as never before.” As a point of fact, there has been no such move against coillective bargaining rights in San Jose or anywhere in California.
More than a thousand demonstrations with the same message were held across the country. Their message—the message of Dr. King—is being reiterated today at a teach-in at the Student Center of San Jose City College.
Read More at the We Are One website.